Rules for pools are there for good reason

Friday, August 16, 2013
Text Size: A | A

It’s hard not to be a little sympathetic with the Rotterdam woman who paid $250 for one of those inflatable, soft-sided swimming pools at her local K-Mart, then found out she needed $800 worth of improvements to her home — including a fence with closable gate, electrical upgrades and a pool alarm — to be on the right side of a law that town officials only recently started enforcing.

Obviously, her pool is proving to be no bargain, but ignorance of the law — or the fact the town never used to enforce it — isn’t sufficient grounds to cut her some slack.

In legal terms, swimming pools constitute what is known as an attractive nuisance: Children who don’t realize the danger they pose are going to be attracted to them, and thus somebody who owns one has to take precautions to ensure that the kids don’t get hurt. A state law addresses several specific issues for above-ground pools, and while many municipalities in the region say they enforce them, Rotterdam apparently hasn’t — until this season.

The rules apply to pools that hold two or more feet of water and don’t have a rigid sidewall at least four feet high that makes climbing or falling into them difficult. They call for fences around the perimeter, a self-closing gate, an alarm that sounds in the house if someone goes into the water, a dedicated outdoor electric outlet and a permit.

The rules weren’t adopted to support public pools or private swimming clubs, to bully people of modest means or to raise money for municipalities, but to save lives by reducing drownings and electrocutions.

It’s true that retailers who sell these low-end pools don’t always tell their customers about the rules, and the fact that abiding by them costs a fair amount of money. That, perhaps, is something localities, or even the state, might address by passing disclosure laws. While it’s ultimately the consumer’s responsibility to know the ins and outs of such things — caveat emptor — stores could certainly be more up-front about them.

Share story: print print email email facebook facebook reddit reddit


August 16, 2013
3:19 p.m.
mw1025028 says...

I am not looking for sympathy just correct application of the local code. For all you green ticketed inflatable pool violators know that Town has no authority to cite you for installing the pool without a permit. Check the Housing and Building Standards Section (it is on line) and you will find that you did nothing to trigger a building permit. Also know that the NYS Fire Prevention and Building Code has a pool standard but does not require a building permit.

At issue is the use of private property. Anyone accessing and entering private property uninvited is trespassing. There is a neglectful adult behind any child who accesses private property uninvited to go swimming. Legislation should never be imposed on the masses to cover someones neglect.

You can't legislate against accidents. Since a child can drown in 3" of water perhaps we should start fencing our bath tubs, install alarms and self locking gates too. An accident is just that; an accident.

Lets unveil the truth. The town made a part time code enforcer full time and now they have to pay for it. Budget season is quickly approaching and they have to come up with ways to cover their intentional cost increases. Should we raise taxes, should we increase fees. Oh let go violate the residents and increase our revenue in the department that saw at lease one significant increase.

August 19, 2013
3:29 p.m.
biwemple says...

These bigger inflatable pools can hold a LOT of water. If they are set up in close quarters to someone else's house and rupture for some reason, they can easily flood a basement or low-level apartment. Not sure if there are codes that prevent someone from setting up one of these temporary pools on a small lot or if there are any setback requirements, etc.

Log-in to post a comment.

columnists & blogs

Log into

Forgot Password?