With summer starting to get into full swing in Ontario, residential swimming pools will soon be busy with family and friends cooling off from the heat. But pool owners need to keep their guests, and themselves, safe from injury, and lawsuits. Safety bylaws and guidelines might vary from one municipality to the next, but following certain swimming pool safety tips should help keep everyone out of harm’s way.

The Occupiers’ Liability Act provides that homeowners must keep their premises safe and free of dangers for visitors. An in-ground swimming pool poses one of the greatest threats to that safety. Some frightening statistics to be aware of (according to the National Safety Council in the U.S.):

  • The leading cause of accidental death for children under the age of five is drowning
  • More than 80% of drownings occur in residential pools or spas
  • A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a car to be involved in the death of a child under age four

10 Swimming Pool Bylaws & Safety Tips

These bylaws and tips can help keep you and your guests safe.

1. Fence Surrounding Pool

Owners (or occupiers) must ensure that there is a fence constructed and maintained around the area of the swimming pool (recommended height of at least 1.2 metres).

The fence must be constructed and maintained so that children cannot stray into the pool area without adult supervision. This includes preventing direct access from the house.

2. Locked Gate

The owner must ensure that the fence has a gate that is kept locked at all times except when an adult is present in the pool area. The gate must be self-closing and self-locking.

3. Adult Supervision

Studies have shown that a young child can drown in as little as 25 seconds. If young children are present in the pool area, active and attentive adult supervision is crucial at all times. The vast majority of children drowning occurs when there is a lack of adult supervision—even for a few moments.

4. Keep Important Items on Hand

The Red Cross recommends having reaching or throwing assists, such as a reaching pole. A first aid kit and a phone are two other essentials to have on hand by the pool.

Clearly display the rules of your swimming pool safety protocols


5. Establish Pool Rules & Clearly Display Them

The Canadian Red Cross recommends having pool rules that can (and should) include such urgent things as no diving, having an adult present at all times, children must swim with a buddy, and refraining from glass containers around the pool area. If these pool rules are properly displayed and communicated to guests, you may be protected from liability depending on the circumstances.

6. Clear The Deck of Tripping Hazards

It’s important that toys or other items that could be tripped on are kept clear from the deck area and patio around the pool.

7. Non-Slip Surfaces

Ensuring there are non-slip surfaces on the deck of the pool can go a long way to preventing dangerous slip and fall accidents.

8. Clearly Mark Shallow & Deep Ends

If the pool has shallow and deep ends, they must be clearly marked, including the transition slope. The marking should be seen above and below the water line.

9. Avoid Alcohol or Drugs

Any inebriation around the pool can lead to slips, falls, or even worse.

10. Maintenance of Pool

Perform regular inspections and maintenance of pools to ensure it’s in safe working order.


Swimming pools can offer great fun for kids (and adults) of all ages. And if rules, bylaws, and safety tips are followed properly, we can all do our best to ensure that a tragic accident doesn’t sink your summer.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious accident at or in a swimming pool, contact Horowitz Injury Law immediately for a free consultation. For 35 years, we’ve been helping clients in these situations get the compensation they deserve. Call us at 416-925-4100.