Pool Safety Guidelines

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Remember: Kids around water need undivided attention! Stay Close, Be Alert and Watch Children in and Around the Pool – AT ALL TIMES!

Swimming is a refreshing activity that promotes physical fitness, coordination and well-being. Studies have shown that teaching children to swim gives them confidence and reduces the likelihood of drowning because they learn skills and water safety techniques.

Sadly, drowning is a leading cause of injury-related deaths in children of all age groups, with roughly 33 children dying each year in New York State. Children aged one through four years are especially at risk, with nearly half of all deaths coming from this age group alone. In addition, near-drowning incidents can often result in lifelong medical conditions.

As a child care provider, you have been entrusted with the safety and care of children. If you have a pool, you bear an extra burden of keeping children safe around a pool and preventing drowning. This is an excellent opportunity to review and reinforce the state requirements for child care providers with pools.

Alyssa’s Law requires that all registered or licensed child care provider homes with pools must have barriers at least 48 inches high to prevent children’s access to your pool. Self-closing and positive self-latching doors or gates are also required. The use of spa pools, hot tubs and fill-and-drain wading pools by any child is prohibited.

Providers must receive OCFS approval prior to the use of a pool for children in day care. To receive approval for a pool, providers must adhere to the regulations below:

In addition, New York State licensed day care providers must adhere to all applicable standards and regulations if they have a pool on site. For more information, see the Child Care regulations page.


416.5(f) and (g) and 417.5(f) and (g)

Operation Requirements

The use of spa pools, hot tubs and fill and drain wading pools is prohibited. The use of non-public and residential pools is also prohibited except when a provider submits adequate documentation that the pool can be operated and maintained in a clean, safe and sanitary manner.

The recirculation system consisting of pumps, piping filters, water conditioning and disinfection equipment shall be capable of clarifying, chemically balancing and disinfecting the swimming pool water. A minimum turnover rate of 8 hours shall be provided.

The disinfection system shall be designed to provide continuous disinfection of the pool water by chlorine or bromine. The equipment shall be capable of maintaining at least 0.6ppm free chlorine residual or 1.5ppm bromine residual throughout the pool.

Adequate documentation shall mean: Permit to operate a swimming pool in conformance with Subpart 6-1 of the State Sanitary Code issued by a County or State Health Department; OR A letter or report from a professional engineer licensed to practice engineering in New York State indicating that the recirculation, filtration and disinfection systems have been evaluated and can produce safe, sanitary water quality.

The report shall also address: Safety aspects of the pool including adequacy of fences1, main drain suction outlet covers/grating, pool bottom slope, safety float lines, prohibition of slides and diving boards. Fencing should be in compliance with the State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code. The slope of the pool bottom in water less than five feet shall not exceed one foot vertical to 12 feet horizontal. OR Equivalent documentation acceptable to the State Health Department.

  1. Adequacy of fences shall mean consistent with local standards.

Pool Safety Plan

Family and group family providers electing to have the children they care for use their residential pools must develop, implement, and update as needed a written safety plan, consisting of:

The safety plan must be submitted to the regional office in your area for review and approval. Children in day care may not use the swimming pool or be permitted in the pool area until approval of the plan has been issued by the regional office. Re-review of the safety plan by the regional office licensor is needed only when changes are made to the existing pool safety plans of record.

Pools rules must include, but are not limited to, the following:


Most drownings take place in fresh water and often in home swimming pools. Most children drown within a few feet of safety and in the presence of a supervising adult.

According to the National Safety Council drowning is the fourth leading cause of accidental death. A child can drown in any body of water no matter how shallow or safe it appears.

There is no substitute for vigilant supervision.

Whenever a pool is in use (children are poolside or in the pool area) at a day care program, all day care children of all ages, regardless of their swimming abilities or maturity levels, must have direct supervision. Adequate1 pool supervision must include a trained person, as defined in the training section of these guidelines.

The person supervising the children in the pool must be able to swim. There must also be adequate supervision of all children, whether in the pool area or outside the pool area, at all times. This means that either:

The following regulations [416.8(n)(1)-(4) and 417.8(n)(1)-(4)] pertain to supervision issues related to pools located at family and group family day care programs:

  1. For purposes of this document the word “adequate” shall mean sufficient to accomplish the purposes for which something is intended, and to such a degree that no unreasonable risk to health or safety is presented. An item installed, maintained, designed and assembled, an activity conducted or act performed in accordance with generally accepted standards, principles or practices applicable to a particular trade, business, occupation or profession, is adequate within the meaning of this document.

Staff Clearance and Training Requirements

If staff are hired for the exclusive purpose of supervising pool activities providers must meet the following requirements for such staff:

Any person supervising children in pools must possess a current Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Certification (CPR) or equivalent certification, as approved by the office and appropriate to the ages of the children in care.

If any staff are hired for the sole purpose of supervising day care children while they are in the pool, such staff will not have to meet the health and safety training requirements or the mandated 30 hour requirement that staff with expanded duties must meet.

Maintenance of Pools

Swimming pool recirculation and disinfection equipment must be operated continuously.

Record Keeping and Reporting Responsibilities

Employee records must be kept on behalf of any staff person hired solely to supervise day care children in a residential pool. Along with the required employee forms, such as references and medical forms, the employer must keep a copy of the SCR clearance, criminal history record review results, and a photocopy of the certification the person supervising the pool presented at the time of employment.

A full report of any injury or illness occurring at a swimming pool must be reported by the provider to the regional office within one business day of its occurrence. This shall include incidents that occur which: require resuscitation; require referral to a hospital or other facility for medical treatment; or is a bather illness associated with pool water quality. Any death of a child associated with pool use must be reported to the office immediately.

A complete daily operations record for pool use must be kept. Forms for this use may be obtained through the regional office but minimally the daily record must include:

Pool Alarms

Effective July 16, 2008, Executive Law added §377 and 378 to its uniform code provisions. This newly adopted law requires that each residential swimming pool1 installed, constructed or substantially modified2 after December 14, 2006 and each commercial swimming pool3 installed, constructed or substantially modified after December 14, 2006 shall be equipped with an approved pool alarm which:

Multiple alarms may be required if a single alarm device is not capable of detecting entry into the water at all points on the surface of the swimming pool. There are two exceptions to the rules above:

  1. A residential swimming pool is defined in code as a swimming pool situated on the premises of a detached one-or two-family dwelling not more than three stories in height with separate means of egress; a multiple single-family dwelling (townhouse) not more than three stories in height with separate means of egress; a one-family dwelling converted to a bed and breakfast; a community residence for 14 or fewer disabled persons, operated by or subject to licensure by the Office of Mental Health or the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD); a one-or-two-family dwelling operated for the purpose of providing care to more than two but not more than eight hospice patients.
  2. Substantially modified means any repair reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or improvement of a swimming pool, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the swimming pool before the repair, rehabilitation, addition or improvement is started. If a swimming pool has sustained substantial damage, any repairs are considered substantial modifications regardless of the actual repair work performed.
  3. A commercial swimming pool is any swimming pool that is not a residential swimming pool as defined above.

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