Tulsa's City Council is looking into whether to raise height requirements for swimming pool fences. The city ordinance now requires barriers around residential pools to be at least four feet high. But some are concerned that fences may not be tall enough to prevent tragedies.
A backyard swimming pool is a luxury many long for, especially during Oklahoma summers. Those cool waters are inviting, and can tempt children to enter restricted pool areas. Tulsa's four-foot high requirement on pool barriers is in keeping with national codes. City councilor Vicki Cleveland says she's received calls recently from people concerned about the height of pool fences. "These are not necessarily privacy fences. They include picket fences and other types of fences. When those homeowners are out of town, people are having trouble keeping their children from climbing the fences and going into swimming pools," she says.
One Tulsa fence builder says while most of his customers aren't aware of the city fence height ordinance, they are aware of potential liability with back yard pools. "If we tear down a fence and have a pool that's already there, we'll take great lengths to put a temporary fence up to protect the kids. Most homeowners are aware. They don't want the neighborhood kids in the pool," says Mike Oakley, Aaron Fence.
Rescuers say while pool fences are obviously important, so are other pool safety considerations. Aaron Howell, Director of Operations for EMSA advises "Citizens knowing CPR and having been trained in CPR and knowing how to access the 911 system. Having a cordless phone out near the pool with you while children or your family are swimming." Oakley believes the four-foot fence height is adequate protection. But he says not all homeowners are in compliance. "There are people that have pools in the city of Tulsa with no fences that should really be more considerate of the outside world. Sometimes they simply don't want the fence because they want the open space, but they need to help protect our kids," he says.
When it comes to home pools, good fences make good neighbors.
Councilor Cleveland says she's asked the council to study the pool fence ordinance to determine what, if any, changes need to be made.