skip to main content

Public Health - Seattle & King County

Pool and spa safety

A backyard pool or spa can be lots of fun for the whole family and it is important to consider safety before AND after a pool or spa is installed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among children ages 1 to 4 years, most drownings occur in residential swimming pools. The CDC reports that most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight for less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time.

Pool and spa fencing

Pool fencing and other barriers can help prevent children from gaining access to pools and spas without caregivers’ awareness. The fence or barrier should completely separate the house and play areas of the yard from the pool or spa area. Some families include additional safety measures such as automatic door locks or alarms to prevent access and to sound if someone enters the area.

Download the following fact sheets for pool barrier information (PDF):

Pool safety tips

In addition to providing a barrier around your pool or spa, here are some important safety practices you should consider:

  • Designate a supervisor while children are in the pool. Young children should be provided with "touch supervision" so an adult is close enough to reach the child at all times. Adults should not be involved in other distracting activities such as talking on the phone, yard work, reading, playing cards, etc.

  • Ensure that your pool or spa is equipped with anti-entrapment drain covers.

  • Visit the Pool Safely website of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission pool & spa safety videos, safety checklists, and drain cover recommendations.

  • Do not use air-filled or foam toys in place of life jackets. Water wings, noodles, or inner-tubes are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

  • Areas surrounding pools & spas should be clear of toys. Remove floats and other toys from surrounding area after use as the presence of these toys may encourage children to return unsupervised or lean over the water and potentially fall in.

  • Learn to swim. Swimming lessons can protect young children and other family members from drowning. Learn more on our swim safety page.

  • Learn CPR and first aid. In the event of an emergency, your CPR skills could make a difference in someone's life while you wait for paramedics to arrive. CPR from bystanders has been shown to improve outcomes in drowning victims.

Are you an owner or manager of a public or semi-public pool or spa? Visit Public Health's Water Recreation program website for information about the plan review process, inspections, download forms and applications, rule posters, and other resources.