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Does my hot tub need a fence? Safety regulations explained

Hot tub with cover
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

So, you’ve decided to invest in a hot tub — that’s great! The best hot tubs are an ideal place to relax, unwind and socialize. But, before you bring one home, you need to be made aware of the necessary safety regulations. These are required by law to prevent accidental drowning and so must be taken into account when you’re planning to buy and place a hot tub or spa. 

The most common questions asked are ‘do I need a fence’ and ‘will a cover be enough’? Put simply, this depends on which state you reside in as rules can vary. At the very least you will need a lockable barrier in place which meets the ASTM F 1346 requirements. However, you will need to contact your local government and, if relevant, your Homeowners Association to find out the specific regulations. Here’s a breakdown of the mandatory barriers which can be required:

Fence: A fence is a regular requirement in many states. It should be a minimum of 4ft tall and should be weatherproof enough to withstand high winds and heavy rain. Some states also require that the gates open away from the hot tub and should automatically close and lock when not in use. The fence also shouldn’t be scalable.    

Lockable cover: This is the minimal requirement by law in some states. The cover should be lockable — a common method used is by straps, and it should completely cover the surface of the hot tub. It should also be able to take the weight of a human without collapsing. 

Wall: More strict regulations may require a brick or cement wall rather than a fence. It shouldn’t have any additional access points, such as windows, and shouldn’t be climbable. The gate should open outwards from the hot tub and ideally should automatically close and lock itself. These are naturally more durable than fences.  

Hot tub with locking cover

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Even if your municipality does not require a fence or wall, it’s a good safety precaution to take in addition to the lockable cover, especially if you live with young children. Being naturally curious, children and toddlers love to explore and you should always take measures to ensure dangerous areas are inaccessible. A fence can also stop any animals from damaging your hot tub. It adds privacy as well, so there’s little to argue against it. 

Depending on where you live, a fence or wall may require a permit, which is worth bearing in mind if you’re on a tight deadline to get your hot tub installed. These barriers will also add more to the overall cost of installing a hot tub which should be considered in your budget, but they are required by law and must be instated.  

Katie Mortram

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed kitchen appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Follow her on Twitter at @KatieMortram.