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What to know about pool safety and inadequate apartment safety gates

Vuk Vujasinovic

Vuk Vujasinovic


Every day approximately ten people die from unintentional drowning, according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these ten deaths per day, two are children under the age of 14 years old. Children under the age of four are most likely to drown. Unsafe pool gates and enclosures are often the reason children drown at apartment complexes.

Apartment owners and managers are required by law to provide a safe environment for their residents and guests. This includes swimming pools and hot tubs. Pools and hot tubs are attractive to children, however children don’t understand the dangers. That’s why Texas laws about pool safety are part of the “Attractive Nuisance Doctrine.”

Under the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine, unsafe situations that may attract children must either be removed from the premises or be held to specific safety standards. The above rules about pool gates and enclosures are in place because it’s more than failing to understand the dangers of pools and hot tubs. Adults and property owners with pools have a duty under the law to prevent children from getting hurt or killed in or around their pools.

If property owners fail to meet this responsibility, they will most likely be held accountable. This includes filing an injury or wrongful death lawsuit against an apartment complex if your child is injured or drowns in their pool or hot tub. Attorney Byron C. Alfred secured one of the state’s largest settlements for a near-drowning event that occurred at a Houston apartment complex. In that case, a four year old child suffered permanent brain damage after being without oxygen for over 7 minutes due to the near drowning event. The case settled in 2015 for a confidential amount.

Unsafe pool gates and enclosures are often the cause of apartment pool drownings

The pool gate or enclosure is the first line of defense to swimming pool drownings at most homes and apartment complexes. Unfortunately, many apartment complex drowning events are due to unsafe pool enclosures. Apartment complexes could prevent many drowning deaths and near drowning events if they adhered to the federal, state and local pool safety regulations.

Existing safety rules governing apartment pool gates include:

  • Apartment pool gates must have a self-closing and self-latching device.
  • Apartment pool gates must have hardware enabling it to be locked by a padlock or a built-in lock operated by key, card, or combination.
  • Apartment pool gates must open outward away from the pool yard.
  • In most cases, the apartment pool gate latch must be installed so that it is at least 60 inches above the ground.
  • Apartment pool gate latches may be installed lower than 60 inches above ground only if  (1)  the latch is installed on the pool yard side of the gate only and is at least three inches below the top of the gate;  and (2) the gate or enclosure has no opening greater than one-half inch in any direction within 18 inches from the latch, including the space between the gate and the gate post to which the gate latches.
  • Apartment pool gate latches may be located 42 inches or higher above the ground if the gate cannot be opened except by key, card, or combination on both sides of the gate.

Apartment pool enclosures must comply with the law as well. These pool safety rules include:

  • Apartment pool enclosures must be at least 4 feet tall.
  • Openings underneath pool enclosures must be no more than 4 inches.
  • Apartment pool enclosures must not have any spaces greater than 4 inches.
  • Pool enclosures must not be made of chain link fencing material, if it was constructed after 1994.
  • Pool enclosures must not have diagonal fencing members lower than 49 inches above ground, if constructed after 1994.
  • Permanent equipment or structures must not be situated in a manner that makes them available to be used for climbing over the pool enclosure.

Proper management of apartment pool gates and enclosures is essential to apartment complex pool safety. Unfortunately, apartment complexes and management companies fail to adhere to these safety rules too often. Unsafe pools and hot tubs at apartment complexes threaten your child’s safety and even their life.

The worst consequence of an unsafe pool isn’t death

Unsafe pools result in drownings and deaths. But the worst consequences are the ones that leave permanent impacts on survivors. Permanent injuries from near drowning events can lead to permanent, life-altering brain damage. Lack of pool safety can also lead to broken bones and paralysis. Finally, unclean pools can lead to serious illness and infectious diseases. These permanent impacts change lives forever and reshape futures. If your loved one has suffered permanent injuries from an unsafe pool, consult us right away. In addition to obtaining record-setting settlements in pool injury lawsuits, our attorneys have helped families obtain justice, gain financial security, and prevent other people from getting hurt. We will answer every question, give you our best advice and recommendations, and help you make the right choice for your family. Contact us now at 877-724-7800 or on our website.