Have an Above-Ground Pool? Chances Are, You're in Violation of Tri-Cities Code

Have an Above-Ground Pool?  Chances Are, You're in Violation of Tri-Cities Code
TRI-CITIES -- With the temperatures finally rising, many Tri-Cities families are looking for a little relief in the form of a backyard pool.

Portable versions can be bought right off the store shelf for less than $100. But you may be surprised at all the rules that comes with those. And if you don't follow the law, you could face some serious consequences.

"When you get a pool installed in-ground, the inspector comes out and makes sure it's all done right," says drowning prevention specialist Mark Allen. "But when you go buy an above-ground pool, there's nothing on there saying you have to have the proper fencing, or alarms on your doors."

A recent report said backyard drownings are just as common in above-ground pools as in-ground versions.

It's a message experts are saying is especially critical for the Hispanic community.

"A lot of our families are immigrants," says Ruvina Jimenez, partner in the Safe Kids Coalition. "And they often don't know that we have ordinances, and city codes that have to be followed."

So, Action News called Tri-Cities Code Enforcement to learn the rules.

We found any pool deeper than two feet requires a locking fence, at least four feet tall, to surround it.

If your house has direct access to the pool, your back door must have an alarm to alert you when the door opens.

Pools over four feet don't always require the fence, but you do need to remove the ladder when the pool is not in use, so kids can't climb in unattended. And you should also use a safety cover.

Shallow kiddie pools don't require a fence. But experts say it's always smart to empty out the water when you're not using it.

"It only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown, and it can happen in less than two inches of water," says Allen.

If code enforcers receive a complaint about your pool, you'll first receive a warning, then in extreme cases, you could be fined up to $300 a day for failure to comply.

Experts say, if you're thinking of getting an above-ground pool, it's best to call your local code enforcement office to learn the exact rules for your neighborhood.