In December 2002 the French parliament pass the "Raffarin
Law" with the objective of preventing people (especially
children) from drowning in privately owned swimming pools.
The idea was to introduce additional safety measures to
supplement proper adult supervision.
The law applies to all outdoor "in ground" pools.
Pools built above the ground or indoor pools are exempt
from the new regulations. The regulations are applicable
now for all new swimming pool installations and for all
rental properties from 1st May 2004. All in ground
swimming pools must comply by 1st January 2006.
There was a great deal on initial confusion about what types
of security systems were required even when some trial standards
were published. Some French home owners have gone ahead
and installed pool fences on the assumption that the trial
standards would become the agreed standard. Others have
"sat on the fence" so to speak but now is the
time for action.
We now understand that swimming pools should be protected
by one (or more) of the following additional safety features.
A safety barrier or fence meeting
standard NF P90-306
A reinforced safety cover meeting
standard NF P90-308
A pool enclosure or shelter meeting
standard NF P90-309
A Pool alarm meeting standard NF P90-307
The law only requires one of these measures but it must
be effectively applied. An alarm system that can't be heard
from all parts of the house would be deemed ineffective
even if the poolside installation itself met the defined
penalty for non-compliance is set at €45,000. The penalties
arising in the event of a tragic drowning after failing
to meet these regulations are likely to be severe.
leave a child unattended.
None of the additional safety measures specified by the
new law are a substitute for proper supervision and the
sensible use of any swimming pool.
If you are installing a new swimming pool then your supplier
should be able to advise you on the alternate options suitable
for your particular circumstances. If you have an existing
swimming pool and intend to let your property out to others
(even friends and relatives) then you should contact a suitable
qualified supplier and bring your pool up to standard.
It is likely that, in the near future, planning requirements
for a new swimming pool installations will require details
of how the new pool will comply with these regulations.
Some Additional Notes
As with any new law and evolving regulations then there
is no substitute for the advice of a qualified professional
installer. However we have put together some short notes
on the different types of swimming pool safety precautions
required under the new swimming pool laws here in France.
Above Ground Pools
Above ground pools have an "in built" safety feature
as the sides of the pool form an effective fence or barrier.
However if pool steps are left in place when the pool is
not in use then they can be very attractive to even the
smallest mobile child. Please remove above ground pool steps
or otherwise make then inaccessible to children when the
pool is not being supervised.
The Letter of the Law
The law itself is (like many such laws) fairly short and
succinct - the detail is in the regulations that are evolved
to implement the law. These may well be subject to change
Rule: Never leave a child