Keeping Summers Accident-Free

Throughout the summer, people have enjoyed family trips, barbeques and time outside at the pool soaking up the sun. Although pools and spas are great for play, exercise and therapy, if we aren't careful, they can also create a major danger zone—especially for children.

An alarming number of water-related deaths and injuries occur in and around pools each year. According to the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 275 children under the age of 5 drown in swimming pools, and more than 4,100 children seek medical treatment for pool-related accidents—mostly in backyard pools.

An important element of pool safety is building codes. The International Swimming Pool and Spa Code (ISPSC), developed by the International Code Council, includes specific provisions to make pools and spas safer. Proper enforcement of the codes helps prevent tragedies and ensure that families have a safe and enjoyable swimming experience.

Now in its third edition, the ISPSC meets or exceeds the federal requirement of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act. The ISPSC also coordinates with Association of Pool and Spa Professionals (APSP) standards and works in regulatory harmony with the International Codes (I-Codes), which are most commonly adopted building and safety codes.

The ISPSC addresses all design and construction aspects of residential and public pool and spas. While most states and local jurisdictions have some form of an existing public pool code, most lack a comprehensive code or laws that address the design, construction and safety of residential pools, which is where most pool related injuries occur.

Here are significant advantages to enforcing the nationally promulgated ISPSC:

  • Energy conservation. The ISPSC references the ANSI/APSP-14, Standard for Portable Electric Spa Energy Efficiency and the ANSI/APSP-15, Standard for Residential Swimming Pool and Spa Energy Efficiency. These standards meet or exceed all of the requirements of California's Title 24 energy initiatives for pools and portable spas.
  • Provisions that coordinate with other I-Codes. The ISPSC contains barrier, decking and light provisions coordinating with the International Building Code.
  • Certifications to the latest industry standards. The ISPSC requires portable spas are certified to the latest industry standards, eliminating the need to inspect inaccessible components. The result is money saved.
  • Provisions that avoid unnecessary increases to construction costs.
  • Provisions that do not restrict the use of new materials, products or methods of construction.
  • Provisions that do not give preferential treatment to particular types of classes of materials, products or methods of construction. The ISPSC is a comprehensive model swimming pool and spa code that establishes a fair playing field for the pool industry while adequately protecting the public's health, safety and welfare.
  • Expedited and simplified construction of pools, spas, and aquatic facilities. As a result of the development of the ISPSC, code officials, design professionals, contractors, home and building owners, manufacturers and other pool industry representatives may refer to the same document that addresses the entire built environment of a pool, spa and aquatic facility.
  • Support from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) and its member organizations of the adoption of the latest edition of the ISPSC.

Additional Resources



Dominic Sims, CBO, is the CEO of the International Code Council, a member-focused association dedicated to developing model codes and standards used in the design, build and compliance process to construct safe, sustainable, affordable and resilient structures.