A Local 6 investigation has uncovered something illegal in the backyards of many Central Florida neighborhoods.
Pop-up or temporary above ground pools are popping up all over Central Florida.
Consumers say these pools, which usually measure between 24 and 40 inches deep, are inexpensive, usually between 100 and 300 dollars and relatively easy to install. But many families are putting children at risk and breaking the law without even knowing it.
While families may think of these pools as short term summer fun, to the state of Florida they're a risk to be regulated.
Pop-up pool owners must obey the barrier requirements put into law in 2000. It’s called the Residential Swimming Pool Safety Act. The law says any pool over 24 inches deep must have a barrier. A property or privacy fence is not enough.
"I'm a father and a grandfather too, and when I see these things I just kind of cringe," said Bobby Bowen, Sr. the manager of Brevard County’s code enforcement office.
We took our Sky 6 video Bowen who told us, "That is a real problem."
"Most of the ones I saw here were the blow up big box types and they don't meet the requirement of the code," said Bowen.
Bowen did see several pools in our video that appeared to be four feet deep. Florida state law says those would be OK.
"However," said Bowen, "there is a ladder that is still attached to the pool and that's problematic. I would hope that in the box that comes with the pool, there's a caution."
There is a warning. Local 6 found the Intex pool installation and safety video, which tells consumers to "check with your local safety council or building authority for barrier requirements in your area."
But Local 6 found many homeowners know nothing about the law.
"I didn't know it. I didn't realize it," said Cythina Berry whose grandchildren were swimming in the pool during our interview.
But just moments before, the four foot deep pool sat unguarded with the ladder at the ready.
That’s a violation of state law which we explained to her. "That could have been in the instructions. I didn't see it," said Berry.
Jerry Kallish, a father of three, was also unaware his pool needs a barrier. "It's probably a good idea to be honest with you. I should probably have one now that I think about it," said Kallish.
That’s a decision that's hard to argue when you look at the numbers. A recent study in the Journal Pediatrics found a child under five dies in one of these swimming pools every five days in the summer.
In almost half the cases, 43 percent, the child wandered into the pool alone.
"The reason we have that code in place is to protect those kids, that's why we have them in place," said Bowen.
Code enforcement officers across Central Florida tell Local 6 they want to know about these pools, and they need you to call if you see one in your neighborhood. While it could be an uncomfortable call to make, Bowen and other officials tell Local 6 they're more concerned with fixing the problem than fining the homeowner.
You can reach Code Enforcement at the following numbers:
- Brevard County: 321-633-2086
- Flagler County: 386-313-4002
- Lake County: 352-742-3950
- Marion County: 352-694-0078
- Orange County: 407-836-3111
- Osceola County: 407-742-0200
- Seminole County: 407-665-6650
- Volusia County: 386-736-5925 (West Volusia) 386-257-6000, ext. 15925 (Daytona Beach)
386-423-3300, ext. 15925 (New Smyrna Beach)