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Pool Safety (Securite des Piscines)

Inground swimming pool safety

In France all in-ground swimming pools must be protected by a system that conforms to the AFNOR standards regarding the provision of safety devices. (These all have the objective of preventing young children of less than 5 years old drowning in the pool).

Strangely this law does not apply to above ground pools.

The opportunity for young children to enjoy swimming activities and learning the various swimming strokes should not be taken away just because parents are worried by even younger children drowning in the same swimming pool.

Swimming pool safety equipment includes automatic swimming pool safety covers, tarpaulin type swimming pool safety covers, swimming pool alarms, swimming pool safety fences and swimming pool safety nets - but these do not meet French legal requirements.

Pool safety is not enhanced by solar pool covers because they do not comply with the law.

The Safety Devices and the number of the Standard that applies are approved by law in France are described below:-

Swimming Pool Fences and Fencing

Safety Barriers (Fences) - Final Standard published NF P90-306

Swimming Pool Covers

Safety Covers – Final Standard published NF P90-308

Swimming Pool Alarms

Pool Alarms - Final Standard published NF P90-307

Swimming Pool Shelters (Abris)

Pool shelters - Final Standard published NF P90-309

The French Law on Swimming Pool Safety

This states that;

  • Open-air pools, buried or partially buried, for private individual or collective use, built from Jan 1st 2004, must be fitted with a standardised safety device.

  • Pools built before this date must comply by Jan 1st 2006. However seasonal letting properties must comply by May 1st 2004 (amended from the original deadline of Jan 1st 2004)

  • Failure to comply is punishable by a €45,000 fine. “Collectively used pools” are not open to the public but only to customers and owners, such as those in the grounds of hotels, restaurants, campsites, seasonally let properties and pools shared by several owners.

  • Legally, you may use any one standardised device. However the CSC (French consumer safety commission) prefers barriers and their combination with other safety measures.

Insurance

Ask your insurance company for advice and your letting agent if your property is let. Many people do not realise they may require additional public liability cover (responsabilité civile) if they let their property.

Sundry details

You are not going to be able to build your own safety device from normal DIY materials. But you can build a 1.1m metre high wall with smooth sides that cannot be climbed by a child.

You should only purchase devices that have a statement of conformity naming the standard to which it conforms. All standardised devices have instruction manuals. Read and keep these. Think ahead to winter and how a device will be used. Will it be compatible with your existing pool covers?

NF P90-306 Safety barriers and gates

A barrier can be combined with walls and sides of buildings. These walls must be a minimum of 1.10m at all points and must be non-climbable. Any access points to the pool must be equipped with a conforming device.

For collective use any means of access must be both self-closing and self-locking. There must be no items outside the barrier that can be used to stand on within a 1.10m radius from the top of the barrier, such as flowerpots or bicycles. The standard recommends a barrier is installed no less than 1m from the pool nor too far that it loses effectiveness.

NF P90-307 Alarm system

Perimeter or immersion alarms must be installed so that the alarm can be heard in all properties using the pool and a rescue made within three minutes by an adult. When deactivated to use the pool the alarm will reactivate after three minutes of inactivity, should you forget to manually reactivate.

If you have a contre-courant system be aware this may stop automatic reactivation. Although devices are tested not to give false alarms, if you have a robot cleaner check it is compatible with the alarm.

NF P90–308 Safety covers and NF P90–309 Pool shelters

Designed to prevent a child falling into the water a cover must support 100kg; a ‘bubble’ cover is not a safety cover. Covers and shelters must be closed and locked to conform in the absence of adult supervision.

Signs

All the standards recommend signs displayed in the pool area with safety information

The differences in Pool Safety Device Types

  Alarms Fences Covers Shelters
Types

Water disturbance sensors and infra-red beams

Metal or mesh supported by metal or composite fibre poles

Manual covers supported by aluminium bars or submerged automatic floating covers

Must be fixed in place to act as a safety device

Cost

Around 400 euros - but bear in mind that they may not work if the summer cover is in place - the summer cover reduces evaporatio and keeps the pool temperature up

Depends on pool size and fence type. Fully AFNOR compliant fencing can be supplied for 65 euros per metre. They need to have a foundation and the gates cost about 500 euros

Winter covers from 13 euros per square metre. Covers with bars from 2000 and from 6000 euros for automatic covers

From 10,000 to 50,000 euros depending on pool type and size

Effectiveness

Many water disturbance sensors will not work when pool is covered by any type of cover or ice. Infra-red devices are set off by animals. If the house is left empty an alarm will not comply and so pool needs to be fenced

The most cost-effective way to provide the safety device in both new and existing pools. A survey is required before retro-fiting to an existing pool. They are also the ugliest solution and the cheaper fences deteriorate in appearance very quickly

 

Winter covers can be used at a holiday home if supplemented by an alarm when the family is on holiday

Can act as a solar cover as well - but really needs to be motorised to be effective as a safety cover

When the cover is pulled back there is no effective safety device - unless a fence is used as well

Retro-fitting to existing pool

Yes

Yes - but some building work may be required

Covers with bars cab be easy to fit but submerged automatic cover fitting is virtually impossible in most circumstances

Yes depending on type

 

 

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