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Pool Markers: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are Pool Markers?

A.

Swimming Pool Markers are tools designed to convey crucial pool-related information such as depth, accessibility, safety instructions, and rules. Such markers are often required by state codes and local laws/ordinances. Pool markers work as safety devices by communicating details such as the minimum and maximum depth of the pool, whether diving is allowed, ramp area, presence of steps and benches, etc. Thus, they significantly reduce the chances of accidents and help create a risk-controlled and compliant facility.

Q. How is pool depth determined?

A.

Determining the right pool depth is crucial for the safety of pool users. Where a shallow pool can result in diving injuries, a too deep pool can present the drowning risk. The height of pool users and the purpose of the pool are the important factors to be considered.

With respect to height, most people go with multiple depth pools where the depth ranges between 3-5 feet. When the height variation between pool users is significant, the shorter person’s height should be the depth determining factor.

Fun, swimming, lounging - your intent behind wanting a pool will also determine how deep it should be. A waist-high depth is enough when the ideal is simply fun or lounging. You may go for a 3.5 to 4 feet deep pool. A swim spa with a depth of 3.5 feet is the answer when you want a pool for swimming. If the idea is to take swim laps, the pool should be at least 5 feet deep.

If you plan to construct your pool for recreational sports such as volleyball and basketball, the depth of the pool should be uniform and range between 3.5 and 4 feet in a large area. Pools suitable for feet-first jumping in should be at least 4 feet deep, and those safe for diving should have a minimum depth of 10 feet. Please refer to your local laws when you want to install a diving board.

Q. Why is it necessary to use Pool Depth Markers?

A.

Pool Depth Markers are essential elements of a safe swimming pool facility. These markers alert pool users by indicating the water level and identifying deep and shallow areas. Water depth is often deceptive and in the absence of appropriate markers, one may make the grave mistake of diving in the shallow end or going into the deeper end unaware and unprepared. Thus, pool markers play a crucial role in preventing injuries that can have serious consequences and even be fatal.
Additionally, installing Pool Depth Markers is required by almost all state and local codes. In their absence, the pool owner stands to attract legal action should there be an accident at his facility.

Q. Are Pool Markers required to meet any design specifications?

A.

In most cases, they are. Swimming pool laws exist in all states and vary across counties, towns, and cities. In addition to prescribing construction, compliance, and other requirements, many laws also issue clear pool marking specifications. These specifications cover the design aspect of the markings and their placement.

For instance, the FBC requires the use of permanent depth markings with the words "FEET," "FT," or "INCHES," "IN,". The numbers and letters on the markings should be a minimum of 4-inch tall and on a contrasting background. Similarly, different state codes and local laws have different marking requirements. Please check with the relevant authority in your jurisdiction to find accurate information.

Q. What are the depth marking requirements for public swimming pools?

A.

Depth markers are covered in Section 409 Specific Safety Features of the International Swimming Pool and Spa Code. The code requires that depth markers be placed at the maximum and minimum water depths and at all points of slope change. These shall be installed at water depth increments of not more than 2 feet and at spaced intervals of not more than 25 feet.

As per the code, the water depth in feet shall be plainly and conspicuously marked either on the vertical pool wall or above the waterline. The markers shall indicate the actual water depth with ± 3 inch accuracy. Where positioned on the vertical pool wall, the markers should be read from the waterside, and the numbers should be visible above the waterline as much as possible.

Pool depth markers placed on the deck shall be within 18 inches of the water edge and positioned so that they can be read while standing on the deck facing the water. Further, the code requires the horizontal depth markers to be slip-resistant, and it further prescribes that these markers be distributed uniformly on both sides and both ends of the pool.

For the design of the markers, the code states that the markers should be at least 4 inches tall. The colors of the marker numbers should contrast with the background and be permanent. The words “feet”, “inches”, and “meter” can be either spelled out in full or abbreviated to “Ft”, “In”, and “M” respectively.
You may access the full text of the code here.

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