In December 2002 the French parliament passed the “Raffarin Law” with the objective of preventing people (especially children) from drowning in privately owned swimming pools.
Open-air private pools for individual or collective use, which are buried or partially buried, fall under the law as well as spas and hot-tubs.
The legislation states clearly that the pool should be protected with one or more safety 'devices'. The ‘device’ must comply with official standards so please make sure, if you are a pool owner that your pool complies with this legislation as failure to comply can result in a €45,000 fine.
The new legislation is summarised below:
* Indoor pools are not affected, nor are pools sited entirely above ground (they normally just rely on a security ladder or one that gets taken away when the pool is not in use).
* The law does not apply to ponds, as they are not designed for bathing.
* We understand that Open-air private pools, spas and hot-tubs which are buried or partially buried should be protected by one (or more) of the following safety devices.
The four pool safety device standards are:
* Safety barriers and means of access to pool (NF P90-306, barrière de protection et moyens d’accès au basin). If the pool is collectively used, for example, a holiday cottage, the fencing must be at least 1.10m in height. Any points of access, such as gates, must be self-closing and self-locking and must entail at least two actions to unlock them, but must still be easy to open by an adult. Both fencing and access must be able to resist the impact of a weight of 50kg.
* Alarm systems (NF P90-307 systèmes d’alarmes). Alarms come in two main types, immersion detector or perimeter alarm. The immersion detector senses a fall into the pool and then must activate within 12 seconds. The perimeter alarm works by infra red beams, when broken the alarm sounds. (pools with a gradually sloping “beach” style entry are not suitable for immersion alarms.
* Safety covers and securing devices (NF P90-308, couvertures de sécurité et dispositifs d’accrochage). Covers come in many different styles for different uses. Some are designed simply for the winter protection of the pool. A cover that complies with the NF standard will have more fixing points, extra eyelet reinforcements, reinforced corners and anti-wear/anti-tear patches on weak points. During the summer when the cover is not in place, another security device must be fitted, such as an immersion alarm.
* Swimming pool shelters (lightweight structures and/or conservatories) (NF P90-309, abris structures légéres et/ou vérandas, de piscines). Some shelters are fitted on telescopic rails so they can be pushed back for summertime use.
Whichever system you choose, it should be practical and easy to use, and your local pool professional should be able to advise you on the pros and cons of each system and discuss the suitability of each system in your particular application.
Whatever you choose, it is going to cost a lot less than €45,000!
The relevant AFNOR statement in French can be found here: www.afnor.fr (search for 'piscines' to bring up relevant standards and articles) or telephone + 33 1 41 62 76 44.