One of the most sticky and confusing subjects I encounter with my clients is that of whether a pool’s security complies with the law or not. Many of my clients inform me that their pool does comply because of x, y or z whereas in fact very few actually do.
The area I want to cover here relates to the law concerning private pools rather than public or shared pools. By a private pool I mean a pool that is situated within the garden of a private house (permanent resident or holiday home) and is used solely by the people staying in that house, whether they be the owners or their guests – paying or otherwise.
The first point to make is this is not just a guideline or recommendation: it is the law and one that is punishable by a fine of €45,000. It has been law since 2003 and, of course, should not be flouted. It refers to in-ground pools only and does not apply to a above ground or indoor pools.
How you comply with this law is up to you and there are four options available as to how you do it. Each of the options are governed by a safety standard and you should always look for this when choosing a product. The French Safety Standards body is called AFNOR and they issue a reference against products that comply. The four options are:
Security barrier (Barriéres de protection) AFNOR standard NF P 90-306
Pool alarm (Alarmes pour piscine) AFNOR standard NF P 90-307
Security cover (bâche de sécurité) AFNOR standard NF P 90-308
Shelter (veranda) AFNOR standard NF P 90-309
A security barrier is a fence that complies with the standard above but can also be a wall. Be warned though, if a wall, it must be a smooth (perhaps rendered) wall with no foot holds. Stones walls can be classed as climbable and might have you fall foul of the law. The fence or wall must be at least a metre away from the pool and must be at least 1.1m high. The last point should be particularly noted as I have seen many pools secured with a nice 1m fence – no, no no!
Also excluded are natural barriers such as hedges and rockeries. These can be used in addition to a fence but not instead of and cannot be close enough to the barrier in order to enable climbing.
The entry point to the barriered off area must be via a gate and in the instance of a private, non-shared pool, this must have a child proof lock but does not have to be self closing.
This can be a perimeter alarm or an in pool alarm, the latter being the most common. This is perhaps also the cheapest option at around €200 but perhaps the least effective. An alarm only works once someone has fallen in and then it requires someone else to hear that alarm and come to the rescue.
I see many pools with alarms fixed to the side of them but invariably they are always turned off. They often set themselves off if it is windy and people get fed up with them, so they disarm them.
An alarm would need to be activated at any time when there is not an adult present around the pool. An alarm that is turned off does not comply with the law!
As with the other options this must conform to the standards required and a security cover can take the form of a plastic roller cover that sits on the water or a summer/winter cover (with the ‘scaffold-like’ poles that straddle the pool) [bâche à barres] but does not include the bubble/solar covers used in summer. Quite the reverse, these are probably the most dangerous things to use if you have small children or animals. A bâche a barres for a 8 x 4m pool will cost less than €900 and can be used all year round. However they are limited to a pool width of 5m and can be heavy to roll up.
A security cover would need to be over the pool at any time there is not an adult present around the pool. A cover that is rolled up at the end of the pool does not comply with the law!
Once again they must conform to the standards laid out by AFNOR and it would not surprise you to learn that this is the most expensive option. Before this option is dismissed, consider that a well installed shelter or abris will keep your pool much cleaner and mean it requires less chemicals. It will also keep the water warmer and prolong the swimming season.
· It’s the law!
· €45,000 fine
· Outdoor, in ground pools
· 4 options to choose from
· A responsible adult is always the best line of safety
· Barriers must be at least 1.1m high
· Summer bubble covers are not a safety cover
This information has been gathered from a number of translated websites and is correct to the best of my knowledge. However, it is intended as a guide only as the laws in France change frequently and I cannot be responsible if the information you read here is out of date, although as of May 2020 it is correct.
For correct and up to date information visit https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr