FLORENCE, AZ – The Labor Day holiday typically signals the end of summer, a time to get ready for football, a new television season, report cards and pre-planning for the fall and winter holidays. Summer may be over but swimming pool safety is a year-round priority in Arizona. Longer swimming seasons and the high number of homes with pools are two reasons why the state has a dismally high rate of childhood drownings or near-drownings.
Arizona had 21 child drowning deaths in 2010. So far this year there have been 15 child drowning deaths in the state.
When Pinal County adopted its first building code in 1986, pool safety was not addressed – it was left to state regulations. That changed in 1988 when the first pool safety ordinance was adopted by the Board of Supervisors. Just recently there were two tragic drowning incidents in Pinal County. In the City of Coolidge two children died within six weeks of each other.
“Owning a home or living in a community with a pool or spa means that you should have a heightened level of safety awareness if young children are around,” said Steve Brown, Pinal County Building Safety Director. “Many people are not aware that a perimeter barrier is required for any body of water that is 18 inches or more in depth at any point and intended for recreational swimming or bathing. This means barriers are required for above ground pools, too.”
With the recent increase of above ground pools in unincorporated Pinal County, Brown is reminding residents that pool safety barriers are required.
“Due to the affordability and simple installation of above ground pools, they tend to be the typical pool installed without safety barriers,” Brown said. “Many people are just not aware of the regulations applicable to above ground pools. In order to provide for the safety of our children, the building department will begin taking an aggressive approach to eliminate these safety hazards.”
The good news, Brown said, is that the County requirements allow a variety of barriers. A document explaining the barriers and options is available on the county website. This shortened URL will take you to the document: http://goo.gl/QLdSR
Pinal County Building Safety is the authority having jurisdiction for all unincorporated areas of Pinal County. The Board of Supervisors has approved intergovernmental agreements with the many of Pinal County’s incorporated communities regarding building safety. The towns of Kearny and Mammoth have adopted the county’s pool barrier requirements.
“We want residents to understand that we are here to help them and provide a service for them, Brown said. “My staff is ready to come out and give an in-home assessment to a homeowner who has a pool or is building one. We’ll do it free of charge. If we can save one life – that would make it well worth our time and effort.”
Incorporated cities and towns have their own permitting and barrier requirements. Before installing or setting up a pool, spa or water feature, be sure to contact the city in which you live or Pinal County’s Building Safety department at 520-866-6405. You can also call that number to schedule a time to have a building safety official come out to your home and assess your pool or spa for safety.