Swimming Pool Laws

Information for swimming pool owners on the legal obligations for pool security systems to help prevent drownings...

The Raffarin Law outlines usage of safety and security systems around private and collective below-ground swimming pools. The objective of this law is to prevent people, and especially children, from drowning in private pools. All swimming pools must be protected by a security system compliant with French set standards.

Safety Standards

A pool owners must ensure that they are using at least one of the approved safety devices. Any safety equipment used must comply with the French standards association AFNOR. You can choose between one of the four following safety systems available from most swimming pool equipment suppliers or pool safety specialists:

  • NF P90-306 for barriers/fences (Barrières de protection)
  • NF P90-307 for alarm systems (Alarmes pour piscines / détecteur d'effondrement)
  • NF P90-308 for safety covers (Couverture bâche / Sécurité couvrante)
  • NF P90-309 for shelters/verandas (Vérandas)

The Law and its Consequences

The Raffarin law obliges pool owners to install a standardised security systemdispositif de sécurité normalisé - for their swimming pool. Further details from LegiFrance.

  • This law applies to in-ground outdoor pools (for public or private use), but it does not apply to indoor pools, and above-ground or on-ground pools.
  • In the case of pools built in 2003 or property rentals, a standardised security system should have been installed before 1 May 2004.
  • In the case of other domestic private pools, a standardised security system should have been installed by 1 January 2006.
  • The penalty for breaking this law is a €45,000 fine.

If you had a cover or barrier that you installed before the standards came out you can use it ONLY if the supplier can officially prove that it is compliant. If not, you will have to buy a device that is compliant and combine it with your existing security equipment.

Appropriate Security Systems

  • Enclosures/Fences
  • Reinforced pool covers
  • Drowning alarms
  • Pool shelters

It is recommended that you contact a local pool professional who will guide you into buying the most appropriate equipment. For a comprehensive list of reliable pool professionals contact the FPP (Fédération des Professionnels de la Piscine).

In the next few years, pool builders will be obliged to provide their clients with a comprehensive safety information package. According to the CSIP, soon planning permission for pools will only be granted if the pool has been designed with a security system in mind.

Enclosures/Fences

Compliant: NF P90-306

There are many different models of safety barrier and gate with certain criteria applying to the gate lock system of collective pools.

Reinforced pool covers

Compliant: NF P90-308

A reinforced pool cover either covers the surface of water or covers the pool and its edge. Reinforced pool covers have the advantage of closing the pool off completely whereas a child could climb over a fence. Floating lightweight solar covers (used to regulate the temperature of the water in the summer) are extremely dangerous and do not qualify as reinforced pool covers: they have been the first cause of death by drowning in swimming pools. The reinforced pool cover must be able to support the weight of an adult or a child (100kg). There are several different designs on the market including:

  • Reinforced PVC shutter (volet roulant):
    It resembles a PVC shutter and is made of PVC slats that float on the water
    The slats come in different colours: blue, white, beige or transparent PVC
    These covers can support up to 150 kgs without sinking so they are totally safe for small children
    PVC shutters can be unrolled manually or automatically by turning a key
    They can be installed below deck level or added to an existing pool. In the second case, they have to be riveted to the side of the pool.
    They can be used as a summer or winter cover (keeps water warm in the summer and prevents pollution from leaves and other debris)
    The covers must be installed by pool professional
  • Prima™ covers:
    Prima cover rolls out telescopically over the pool. 
    It covers the surface of the water and the edges. 
    It has an aluminum frame that is covered with a vinyl sheet. 
    When it is rolled away, it fits into a case on one end of the pool and is very discreet.
    It is totally safe for children adults and pets 
    It can be adapted to all shapes and sizes of pools 
    It can be added to an existing pool 
    It must be installed by a pool professional.

Alarms

Alarms compliant with the NF P90-307 standard can be used without any other safety device.

Certain criteria apply to the use of alarms including the need that the alarm can be heard from all parts of the property. There are two types of pool alarms available on the market:

  • Area alarms / Perimeter alarms:
    Alarms that detect when something or somebody enters a specified area 
    Using an infra-red technique or an intelligent supervision system, the alarm goes off when something enters a specific area. 
    The main advantage is that the alarm goes off before the person is in danger. 
    These alarms must be installed by a professional.
  • Immersion alarms:
    Alarms that detect when something or somebody falls in the water  
    These alarms go off when something falls in the water. 
    It detects objects of 2kgs and up 
    Immersion alarms should be installed by a professional.

Note: Infra-red and immersion alarms should be considered as complementary security systems. They do not prevent children from falling in.

Pool shelters

Compliant: NF P90-309

Pool shelters come in all shapes and sizes. They can be fixed, removable, telescopic or inflatable. With a pool shelter you must make sure that the structure is strong enough to prevent children from falling in and that the shelter can be and is securely locked when no one is supervising the pool.

A few tips to prevent drowning accidents in your pool

Competent adult supervision is the only way to prevent drowning accidents, and equipping your pool with a standardised security system is just a complementary security initiative.

  • Never leave an unsupervised child near a swimming pool, never lose eye contact
  • If you must leave the pool area, even for one minute, take your child with you
  • Teach your children to swim, but never consider children water-safe because they know how to swim
  • Adult supervision is always necessary
  • Floating toys attract youngsters: remove them from the pool when not in use
  • Keep toys such as baby walkers, tricycles or wheel toys away from the pool
  • Do not rely on plastic floats, armbands or other inflatable toys to prevent accidents
  • Remove vegetation and other obstacles to assure a clear view of the pool from the house
  • If you use a pool enclosure, make sure that objects such as chairs and tables cannot be used to climb over the fence
  • Always keep a phone near the pool in case of an emergency. The French telephone numbers for emergency paramedics are: Fixed line Tel: 18 (Pompiers) and/or Tel: 15 (SAMU) Mobile phone Tel: 112
  • Mairies and the Red Cross (Croix Rouge Française) provide life-saving training courses (stage de secourisme). Contact your local mairie for more information.
Text contributions by CVP Piscines Cheminées Villas Piscines