The Locksmith's Role In Pool Safety

Aug. 2, 2018
Gate locks, pool alarms, self-closing hinges and hydraulic closers can help to prevent accidental drownings

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC), approximately 300 children younger than 5 drown each year in swimming pools. Most of the victims had been missing for five minutes or less when they were found. Precious time is often wasted looking for missing children anywhere but in the pool. Since every second counts, always look for a missing child in the pool or spa first.

Many municipalities require fences around swimming pools to reduce the risk of swimming pool accidents and deaths. From a legal standpoint, the pool and fence must meet any and all code requirements. Property line fencing is often mandatory to protect neighborhood children from accessing the pool.

However, U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) found that fewer than two percent of all drowning victims were trespassers; more than 98 percent of child swimming pool drowning victims were living at or guests at the house with the pool.

In addition to a perimeter fence, a fence between a home and the pool is recommended, especially for homeowners with young children.

These statistics apply to residential pools. Pools operated by the homeowners’ association, condo management or municipalities represent another important market for pool safety devices.

In many instances these facilities have worn out or outdated safety measures on their pool enclosures. Issues include lack of funding and vandalism.

When conducting a routine inspection at these types of facilities, the locksmith should make a point of noting the types and conditions of the pool safety hardware and equipment and should make recommendations to the management. A faulty pool enclosure can be as dangerous as a blocked fire exit.

Layers of Protection

The National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA), in a statement on its website stresses that no single device or solution can prevent child drownings. It recommends “layers of protection” to prevent unauthorized access, especially for children.

These layers include adult supervision, pool fences, covers, alarms and more. Isolation fencing, in addition to perimeter fencing, is recommended. Isolation fencing completely separates the pool (or spa) from the house.

Fencing can be made from wood, aluminum, vinyl, Plexiglas, chain-link, or wrought iron, but needs to conform to some key specifications to be most effective: NDPA recommends 60” (CPSC Guidelines recommend a minimum of 48 inches.) height with vertical bars set no more than 4 inches apart to keep a small child from squeezing through. Horizontal bars must be far enough apart that they cannot act as a “ladder” to climb over. The horizontal bar closest to the ground should also not allow enough room for a child to crawl under the fence.

Gates to pool or spa areas should be self-closing and self-latching and accommodate a locking device. Gates should open away from the pool.

These are only a few comments and observations and in no way meant to be considered a comprehensive review of pool safety measures. The Locksmith Ledger did however ask some of our vendors who are experts in their respective product groups for their comments and recommendations for how to deal with this life and death issue.


Locksmith Ledger asked Locinox’s Nik Talpe for some tips and recommendations for pool security and safety procedures.

What are the special considerations for pool gate hardware and locking devices and what products do you offer which are used for pool gate safety and security?

First of all, there is a difference between types of pools. There are Assembly or Education pools; Public Pools and Residential pools etc.

In general, the code focuses on two hardware types: locks/latches and self-closing function.

Locks or Latches: Any release mechanism should be located at minimum 54” from the bottom of the gate. If the gate is also self- locking and is operated by a key lock, electric opener, combination lock; then the locking mechanism shall be 34 inches minimum and 48 inches maximum above the finished floor or ground.

This means you have several hardware options:

  • Ornamental, Industrial, and Gate Lock with Kidloc Safety Knob and Roller bolt latch to improve latching and requires less pressure to secure gate.
  • Free exit code lock (Free Vinci mechanical lock), can choose to do a push bar for free exit instead of a lever.
  • Also, Locinox has a SlimStone keypad that would function as a standalone access control device in combination with our Modulec electric strike.

The gate opening should open outwardly, away from the pool, and should be self-closing and latching.

Locinox is known for its reliable and high quality – yet affordable – hydraulic gate closers: the Mammoth self-closing hinge set for gates up to 330 lbs. and the Tiger self-closing hinge set for gates up to 165 lbs.

Mammoth and Tiger are both sets, combining hinge and closer in one. This means a lot of time is saved on the installation end.

Locinox also offers the Samson gate closer for gates up to 330 lbs. including chain link gates and the Lion gate closer for gates up to 165 lbs. These products are meant for retrofit / service applications where an existing gate needs a reliable gate closer.

Do free egress code requirements apply to pool gates/enclosures?

No, unless main egress path with occupant load of 50 or more.

Do you have any other comments or recommendations?

The ideal pool set up would be a regular kidloc; a mechanical code lock or an electric strike controlling all access going in the pool, combined with a panic bar for free exit in case of panic and a TIGER gate closer that makes sure the gate always closes and is ADA compliant.

I’ve included nice example of a commercial pool setup. Following are the components used in the set up:

Mammoth gate closer Hydraulic 180° Gate Closer And Hinge: An elegantly designed self-closing hinge that opens smoothly and closes consistently gates up to 330 lbs., regardless of the outside temperatures (patented system). Force, closing speed and closing action (snap shut) are all individually adjustable according to your needs.

  • Self-closing hinge with patented hydraulic damping
  • Adjustable closing speed & closing pressure
  • Fast and easy installation with Quick-Fix
  • Adjustable closing action for perfect closing, smooth or snap shut
  • For left and right opening gates
  • Opening angle: 180°
  • Powdercoated aluminum casing
  • Double stainless steel bearing
  • 2-dimensionally adjustable, Gap & Ht x 3/4"
  • Easy to open: Max opening force 3.5 lbs
  • Conforms to all regulations regarding max allowed forces to open gates
  • Ideal in combination with magnetic and mechanical locks
  • Bottom Dino hinge included (Double stainless bearing)
  • Especially designed for exterior use: rain & frost-proof
  • Aesthetic design
  • Burglar proof and anti-theft
  • Closing force over the full 180° opening angle
  • Closing speed unaffected by temperature changes
  • For gates up to 330 lbs. and 5 ft. wide
  • Tested at 500.000 movements
  • Tested from -22° F to 160°F
  • Distance between post and gate : from 3/8" to 1-10/16"

Modulec Electric Strike Surface Mounted Electric Keep: This is an electric strike for surface mounted locks. Fast and easy installation thanks to the Quick-Fix. Easily interchanged with the SA keeper. Can be connected to both 12V - 24V and AC/DC. Modulec-SA is available in two versions: E (Emissa - Fail close) and R (Ruptura - Fail open).

  • Tested at 500.000 operations
  • 660 lbs. holding force on the latch bolt
  • Fast and easy installation with Quick-Fix
  • Easy left or right hand changing
  • Corrosion-resistant: black anodised housing
  • Fits profiles starting at 1-1/2"
  • Adjustable for profiles: 1-1/2" to 2-1/2"
  • Voltage: 12V-24V AC/DC
  • Consumption: 12V - 1,25A / 24V - 0,62A
  • Power: 15W

Locinox Industrial Lock with aluminum housing and stainless steel mechanism. (This lock will fit BOTH chain link and ornamental gates) We recommend this lock as the standard for your industrial gates. The latch and dead bolt have 3/4" continuous adjustment to allow perfect alignment of the locking mechanism. A stainless steel throw of 7/8" guarantees secure locking. Handle depends on color: silver locks ship standard with the modern aluminum handle pair and all other colors ship with the black ornamental handle pair. The latch gap required is keeper dependent, but the standard and security keepers require a 1-1/4" latch gap.

  • ISO 9227 KTL / E-coated lockbox withstands 1000 hours of salt spray test
  • Easy left or right changing of the self-latching daybolt
  • Throw of the deadbolt, 7/8" in 1 turn of the key
  • Key-operated self-latching bolt, allows Free Exit application
  • 4-hole mounting with two hex head socket screws
  • Center distance bolts: 2 - 3/8"
  • Adjustment of the bolts up to 3/4" continuous without removing the lockbox
  • Stainless steel mechanism

Locinox Panic Bar Aluminum Panic Bar: Push bar enables easy opening of the gate by a simple push. The Push bar replaces the normal handle, operates the daybolt and can quickly be installed on a new or existing Locinox LA, LP or LF chassis.

  • Anodised black, aluminium Pushbar with stainless steel mechanism
  • Compatible with Locinox LA and LF chassis
  • Pressing the Pushbar operates the daybolt
  • Ideal in combination with Free Vinci lock
  • For left and right turning gates
  • Easy to install on the gate with Quick-Fix
  • Delivered with blinded 5/16" follower
  • Possible to combine with half handle sets with 5/16" follower
  • Maximum width: 4-1/2 ft.
  • Pushbar length - standard 45-1/4" (can be shortened)
  • Dummy cylinder recommended

More Info:


Keedex offers gateboxes for mounting locks such as the Alarm Lock Trilogy pool entry gates. DL5200, Dl5300 and PDL3000 and PDL5300 locks use the Keedex Model K-BXSIM or taller K-BXSIM-RF AL SS.

K-BXSIM weldable box dimensions are 5 1/2” W x 10 1/4 ” H x 1 3/4” D. Backset is 2 3/4”. Models are available constructed of 14 Gauge Steel, .125 Gauge Aluminum and 16 Gauge Stainless Steel.

They also have related items such as the K-GBJ Gate Box Installation Jig. Clamping this tool on your gate during a retrofit will align the gate edge, assist in getting perfect gate box alignment, and free your hands so you can weld safely.

The STR CUT Straight Cut Tool enables you to get a straight cut on all of your gate box retro fits, the first try. This tool clamps onto gates between 1” and 2”, has a hardened steel stop and acts as a miter box for use with your reciprocating saw. The GRD LVR Lever Guard helps prevent reach-through openings of pool gates.

More Information: www.


In 2014, LockeyUSA launched to serve as a resource for pool and spa owners who know they need to increase the security hardware on their pool barrier, but do not know where to start. The site provides links to many different pool safety hardware suppliers ranging from drain covers to pool/gate alarms.

The National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) is an outstanding organization with endless resources and recommendations on achieving water safety. LockeyUSA recommends everyone in the industry join the alliance at The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC) heads the Pool Safely Campaign, a national public education campaign supporting the requirements of Section 1407 of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, and works with partners around the country to reduce child drownings, non-fatal drownings and entrapment incidents in swimming pools and spas. Take the pledge to Pool Safely at

Locksmith Ledger contacted Kara Kuntz, Director of Marketing, LOCKEYUSA, for further information.

What are the special considerations for pool gate hardware and locking devices?

An effective pool barrier prevents a child from going OVER, UNDER, or THROUGH the barrier and keeps children from accessing the pool when supervising adults are not present.

  • The top of the fence should be at least 48 inches above the surface measured on the interior side of the barrier, although fences 5 feet or higher are preferable. Some states, counties or municipalities require pool barriers of 60 inches.
  • The maximum vertical clearance between the surface and the bottom of the fence should be 4 inches, measured on the exterior side of the barrier. In the case of a non-solid surface, such as grass or pebbles, the distance should be reduced to 2 inches, and 1 inch for removable mesh fences
  • Where the top of the pool structure is above grade or surface, such as an above-ground pool, the fence may be at ground level, like the pool structure, or mounted on top of the pool structure
  • Openings in the fence should not allow passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere
  • Solid fence, which do not have openings, such as masonry or stone walls, should not contain indentations or protrusions that may allow a child to climb over the fence
  • Where the fence is composed of horizontal and vertical members, and the distance between the bottom and top horizontal members is less than 45 inches, the horizontal members should be located on the interior side of the fence
  • Spacing between vertical members should not exceed 1¾ inches in width. Where there are decorative cutouts, spacing within the cutouts should not exceed 1¾ inches in width
  • Maximum mesh size for chain link fences should not exceed 1¼ inch square, unless the fence is provided with slats fastened at the top or the bottom that reduce the openings to no more than 1¾ inches
  • Where the fence is composed of diagonal members, such as a lattice fence, the maximum opening formed by the diagonal members should be no more than 1¾ inches
  • Access gates to the pool should be equipped with a locking device. Pedestrian access gates should open outward, away from the pool, and should be self-closing.

 What products do you offer which are used for pool gate safety and security?

The weakest link in the strongest and highest fence is a gate that fails to close and latch completely. At LockeyUSA, we make it our mission to offer high quality fence and gate products that ensure your gate is secure at all times. Offering a wide variety of gate locks, latches and hydraulic gate closers, we want to make sure the “weakest link is actually the most secure piece of the project. Using gate locks and closers effectively will neutralize the most obvious access point, allowing for a secure perimeter. Hydraulic gate closers automatically close the gate gently and efficiently after it is opened. After all, no gate locking/latching system is effective if the gate remains in the open position.

LockeyUSA offers a full line of keyless entry mechanical security locks that are ideal for gate applications. We have several self-latching locks available with combination on both sides, so the lock cannot be manipulated through the fence, making them deal for picket fence applications. We have several options for wood and vinyl fences, including surface mounted locks. LockeyUSA panic hardware, including panic shields and accessories, allows for free exit and deters unauthorized access. These are all self-tapping, bolt-on applications that can be installed in the field without a welder. Finally, we offer nine different types of hydraulic gate closers, which efficiently push the gate closed and are used for both residential and commercial applications.

Do free egress code requirements apply to pool gates/enclosures?

Code requirements vary by locality and state. Be sure to check your local code prior to taking on a project.

More Information:

D&D Technologies

Locksmith Ledger interviewed Jeff Horton, Marketing Manager for D&D Technologies. Following are the Ledger’s questions on pool safety equipment and Horton’s answers.

What are the special considerations for pool gate hardware and locking devices?

  • Gate latch with reliable latching technology.
  • Gate latch that won’t become unlatched once it is latched.
  • Gate latch that is out of reach of toddlers and young children.
  • Gate latch that has a visual indicator when the latch is unlatched.
  • Gate latch that emits an audible alarm signal when the latch is unlatched.
  • Gate latch with a visible indicator to show whether the gate is locked or unlocked.
  • Gate latch that is vertically and horizontally adjustable and is easy to install.
  • Self-closing gate hinge.
  • Gate hinge that is adjustable.
  • Gate latch and hinge constructed of a strong, rust-free material that won’t bind or snag.

D&D Technologies’ latches and hinges are constructed of rust-free industrial strength polymer and marine grade stainless steel components for superior performance in extreme climates.

Do free egress code requirements apply to pool gates/enclosures?

When referring to the most standard pool codes, free egress is not a requirement. However, there are some commercial applications (apartment buildings in some counties) where there are building codes in addition to the standard pool codes that require all gates must have free egress.

What products do you offer which are used for pool gate safety and security?

MagnaLatch Alert Top Pull, MagnaLatch Alert Vertical Pull, MagnaLatch Series 3 Top Pull and MagnaLatch Series 3 Vertical Pull.

MagnaLatch® ALERT is the first integrated gate latch and alarm. Users can see at a glance, and hear from a distance, whenever a gate is not fully latched and secured. Latch emits a single beep upon each entry or exit, full alarm mode if gate is left open or unlatched over 15 seconds. It is constructed of rust-free industrial strength polymer and marine grade stainless steel components for superior performance in extreme climates.

Models include the MagnaLatch® ALERT Top Pull for gates around swimming pools, homes, childcare centers, schools and wherever child safety is critical. Dual electronic warnings: bright, flashing LED light, and an audible alarm that sounds if a gate is opened or left unlatched. This provides the ability to see at glance and hear from a distance if your gate is not fully secured. The dual alarm system sounds if the gate is not fully and securely latched. Vertical and horizontal alignment indicators and adjustability allow proper gate & latch alignment with a screw driver, during or after installation.

The MagnaLatch® Alert Vertical Pull Magnetic Pet & Child Security Gate Latch with Electronic Alarm includes alarm for front, side, perimeter and pet gates around the home. Dual ALARMS provide visual and audible "unlatched gate" warnings. Single alert beeps each time gate is opened. The dual alarm system sounds if the gate is not fully and securely latched. Quick and easy to install. Lockable to prevent opening without key. Vertical and horizontal alignment indicators and adjustability allow proper gate & latch alignment with a screw driver, during or after installation. Lift knob is ergonomic and child resistant. Industry leading magnetic latching technology. Meets all pool barrier codes! ADA compliant! All mounting hardware and battery is included. Engineered with industrial strength polymer and stainless-steel components that withstand the harsh effects of both time and weather, which won’t rust, bind, sag, stain or corrode. Water resistant - rated to IP55. Tested to 2 million open/close cycles with limited lifetime warranty.

The MagnaLatch® Series 3 Top Pull Safety Gate Latch is designed for taller pool gates as well as for gardens and household gates. The built-in lock helps to prevent unauthorized entry into your yard or pool. MagnaLatch Series 3 includes a visible lock indicator, vertical & horizontal alignment indicator and 6-pin rekeyable security lock. It fits standard gate to post gaps of 1/2" to 1-1/2" (13 - 38mm). It allows latch release to be mounted at required pool code height on gates 54" or higher and fits metal, wood or vinyl gates. Gate gap spacer allows for larger gaps 1-1/2" to 2".

The MagnaLatch® Series 3 Vertical Pull magnetic safety gate latch is shorter than the MagnaLatch Series 3 Top Pull model and is designed and is suitable for taller pool gates as well as for garden and household gates. The built-in lock helps to prevent unauthorized entry into your yard.

TruClose® Regular Adjustable, Self-Closing Gate Hinges deliver dependable reliability for general purpose gates around homes and yards. They provide a clean look and conceal all fasteners. This is the ideal self-closing (tension-adjustable) hinge. Engineered with industrial strength polymer and stainless-steel components, these hinges will withstand the harsh effects of both time and weathere. The self-lubricating polymer materials used in these hinges means they are virtually maintenance-free. It features quick and easy adjustment and quick-fit alignment legs for added fitting strength. Gate gap fixed at ¾” (19mm). TruClose Regular hinge features the ability to customize the latch with optional trim cover (black, brushed or chrome) to enhance your outdoor living environment by matching your lighting and yard accessories. Fasteners are included (10-gauge fasteners). Suitable for gates up to 66 lb (30kg).

More Information:

About the Author

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is a security consultant, trainer and technician who has also been writing articles on all areas of locksmithing & physical security for many years.