There are many contributing factors to installing an effective and reliable pool fence, such as the climability of the material, its construction, and how and where it is installed. The purpose of this blog is not to discuss these features but to discuss the actual height of the fence. So the question is what height should a fence be 4ft / 48inches or 5ft / 60inches in height?

Currently the below organizations recommend the following heights: (this is the measurement taken from each side of the fence from the ground up)

American Academy of Pediatrics – At least 48”*

Consumer Safety Product Commission – At Least 48” *

National Drowning Prevention Alliance – 60” *

Safe Kids USA – 60” *

Most of the 48inch height recommendations are from older studies and reports. New thought is that 60inches is more effective and most municipalities, daycare, adoption and fostering agencies now require this as a minimum height for compliance.

With regards to strength and robustness, as long as the fence is in good repair, is of sound construction and is installed correctly there is negligible difference between the two heights. It is true that with concentric, tension based fencing the 4ft height is slightly tighter with there being a little more “give” in the 5ft fence. According to Javier Ibarra, Katchakid Inc’s fencing expert more experience is needed to fit a 5ft concentric, tension based fence as the angles required make it a more technical installation. In windy areas obviously the higher the fence the more prone it is to wind damage.

There is a train of thought that if a child can climb a 4ft fence then they could certainly climb a 5ft fence. This is probably true however I think that children are like adults in that they weigh up the odds of a task being within their capabilities. If you consider that an average 4 year old is approximately 36 – 39inches tall that doesn’t leave much difference between them and a 48inch fence, add another 12inches and I think they would feel their probability of successfully scaling that fence significantly reduced. This is conjecture on my part but as a mother of 3 tall and rambunctious children I feel confident in that statement.

I have heard many people say that a 4ft fence looks better. This is probably true as your eye level looks over a 4ft fence unlike a 5ft fence that is looked at. But the common aim we are working towards is child pool safety. Pool safety companies are not landscaping companies. Undoubtedly a nice pot plant will enhance your pool much better that a fence but that is not what we are here for.

Realistically choosing a fence height will most likely depend on the children; boys or girls, 1 child or multiples, obedient and compliant children versus boisterous more confident children, a child that will rather than one that won’t. My own personal leaning is towards a 5ft fence as, as far as I am concerned, with pool safety bigger, better and more is best!

1.American Academy Of Pediatrics:

http://www.aap.org/family/tipppool.htm

2.Safety Barrier Guidelines for Home Pools. U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. 362.

3. National Drowning Prevention Alliance:

http://www.ndpa.org/tips/layers.htm

4.Safe Kids USA:

http://www.safekids.org/safety-basics/safety-resources-by-risk-area/drowning/

5.California Swimming Pool Safety Act. California Legislation: AB 3305 (925).