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New Tennessee Law Regarding Pool Alarms

Tennessee passed a state law requiring pool alarms on all new residential swimming pools. The law is known as “Katie Beth’s Law” after Tennessee State Senator Charlotte Burks 17 month old great-grandaughter Katie Beth Maynard drowned in an above-ground pool in 2009.

The new law will apply to all private swimming pools built after January 1, 2011. As written, Tennessee’s legislation further prohibits an electrical inspector from giving final approval for the pool’s wiring unless an alarm has been installed. In addition, signs reading “State Law Requires a Pool Alarm be Installed” must be posted by anyone who sells a pool. The first fine is $100 and each fine after that can cost up to $500.

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  1. Sean says:

    All though I agree that safety is always priority, why is it that law like this are only put into place after a congressman or women’s family member dies?! I.e. Virginia Gram Baker Act; prime example ~ same thing!
    I just think its strange. Great article, I didn’t know Tennessee had put this into effect.

  2. Mike A. says:

    Excellent idea. This law has the potential to save lives and won’t even interfere with anyone’s enjoyment of their pool. In addition to an alarm, a pool should be enclosed by a secure fence to prevent small children from entering unsupervised. If you don’t like the look of a plain fence, you can grow vines on the fence, or plant shrubbery or tall ornamental grasses in front of it.

  3. Heather says:

    This is wonderful. I myself had the pleasure of knowing sweet Katie Beth and it is great to know that the action was taken to prevent this tragedy from happening to other families around the state. It’s not something we ever think can happen to us or anyone we know but sadly it does and I am proud of Senator Burkes for taking action to prevent it happening to others. Obviously it won’t bring Katie Beth back for the senator’s family but if it saves just one other child’s life then it will be worth all the effort she put forth into getting the law passed

  4. Tiffany Gore says:

    SUPPER EXCITED, this is the best law for safty for our children and pets aswell. Thankyou Ms.Charlotte Burk you are and amazing women,this will be rememberd as one of the most fanomanal laws to protect our childern……

  5. Lynn says:

    A good idea, but I think it interesting that there is no law requiring people with ponds in their yards to install any safety equipment. There are five homes with ponds in their yards in a neighborhood with 27 homes, plus a small lake in the neighborhood.

  6. Scott says:

    Very good point Lynn.

  7. Pools says:

    I wish we have the same law in my country. This will definitely save lives.

  8. Missy says:

    I just want to know why only New pools? Older pools are just as dangerous.

  9. Jan says:

    I just purchased a new above ground pool and was required to purchase this alarm. I do think it is a good idea, but what if you’re not at home and someone manages to get into your pool, what good is the alarm. I don’t have small children and my pool is fenced with the deck that does have the steps that go up with a lock to keep anyone from getting in. I my self didn’t want to buy the alarm but was forced to because of the Tennessee new law. Just like missy said, what about older pools and what about the pools sold at Walmart or other stores, they don’t have alarms?

  10. Johnny says:

    Missy, I agree with you that older pools are just as dangerous. The reason this law applies to new pools is because they can’t inforce the law without an electrical inspection. I recommend alarm along with other safety measures to keep family, friends. and unwanted guest safe and also to protect against possible lawsuits.

  11. Johnny says:

    Jan, that is a great point. As a retailer in Tennessee we are required to post this law however we are not required to sell them with each pool unless we the retailer install the pool. If the homeowner installs a new pool without an alarm they run the risk of fines and/or lawsuits. Most areas now require all pools over 36″ of water to pull permits and have electrical inspections.

  12. Michael says:

    I feel horrible for what happen to Katie Beth it is a true tragedy. However placing an alarm on a pool and surrounding the pool with a fence doesn’t mean it will stop more tragedies. Are we going to place a lid on it to? I mean when or where do you draw the line and chalk it up to human error. No matter how accidental and horrible it maybe. In some cases it is my opinion that this is more of a crusade. You can not protect the world from every single danger. Thats what common sense is for. Respectfully,Better super vision would have been way more effective. Imposing a law is a noble idea and certainly heart felt in this situation.On other hand it is nothing more than a crusade and an inconvenience not to mention some sort of insurance liability crap.When the fact is if you have children or if you have a pool you should know the dangers. I truly hope the alarms work but at some point people have to be responsible for themselves and there actions and not expect or hope for some new law to govern them. Pretty so we wont be the land of the free. We over do it sometimes. Even with good intention.

  13. Johnny says:

    Michael, that is a great point.

  14. Jason says:

    Let me start off by saying I have a inground . I also have 2 children that
    Grew up around swimming pools, they were never allowed to be near the pool un supervised ans yes i have it fenced, I also have to carry 1 mil in liability insurance in case someone falls in and drowns. It’s ridicules, then we all complain why taxes are so high. We all depend on them to make these laws.
    I agree allot with the above. Take responsabity for your own actions.
    I’m sure I will be hated for the next statement, a 17 month old child manages to climb up and fall into a above ground swimming pool, would a alarm have been the saving grace?? Would it have been heard??

  15. Trina says:

    Does this law apply to the honeypot swimming pools?

  16. Tiffany says:

    Let me start off with the drowning of anyone is a tragedy. As with anything, laws are often made as a reaction to a tragedy..hindsight if you will. Yes, consumers can continue to buy ” safeguards” to protect ” ourselves from ourselves”. Accidents do not just happen, we do something to contribute to an accident. This particular case seems to be the result of someone not watching their children with extreme caution when a recipe for disaster is present: young child, inexperienced swimmer, and a pool. This tragedy then causes laws to be made with expenses to consumers to protect “ourselves from ourselves”. Point to be made..when will we quit putting safety measures in place for every possible accident rather than teaching everyone to use good judgement and practice good ole common sense. Eventually we will have so many automated safe guards in place that we will have little need to use common sense to protect ourselves. Where will our survival skills to protect ourselves go? They will go away!! Then, how will we react to a tragedy when safe guards have always been in place to protect us and those safe guards fail….currently consumers file lawsuits against the makers of the safeguards because the manufacture of safeguards take on the responsibility to some degree to protect us from ourselves. Does not quite make sense.

  17. Johnny says:

    Trina, My understanding of the law – alarm is required on all new pools and they enforce the law thought electrical inspection.

  18. mike says:

    i think this is the dumbest law ever, no one will listen to this alarm, its going to go off so many times from garbage that no one will pay attention to it. i think the best thing is to make sure you have a ladder lock and watch your kids… there death is your own fault for not watching them… i mean how does a 17 month old get out and into an above ground pool. lazy parents that wasn’t watching there kids

  19. red says:

    so, my cousin was killed by a drunk driver. we should outlaw all alcohol and corvettes.

  20. Tabby says:

    What happens when someones child just drowned in a backyard pool here in tn yesterday and past away today? Does the family that owned the pool with no alarm get nothing done to them. Rest In peace Colton.

  21. mike says:

    So if you come over to my home with your child and you don’t watch your child and he/she goes out and drowns in my pool.. that’s my fault you didn’t watch your child? why should I get fined when i had a pool up for years with no problems. I’m responsible for my children if they was at your home if my child drowns its my fault for not watching them, not cause you didn’t change your pool functions for my children.

  22. cathy says:

    I will begin with saying I am sorry for any childs death. Then let me say , all parents should be responsible for knowing where those litlle children are at all times! If your child is out of your site for more than 2 minutes as a toddler than you know you are asking for trouble. If they can get out your door than you better be putting an alarm on it it so they can’t get out of it, that is what I had.If you are already outside then where are your eyes if not on them? Why are we putting the burden on the pool owners instead of the childs parents. At some time you just have to buckle down and take responsibility for your own family and what happens. Put an alarm inside on your door when it is opened , keep your child from going out, if that is a problem.

  23. Bonnie says:

    Great article, but I think that the people have spoken. Requiring that an alarm be installed does not mean that the consumer will use it. Oddly enough, the last pool party I went to, a very wise woman of 87 told us that most kids die in their own pool and it is the little bitty 1 foot of water pools that are not emptied. Ray Charles brother died in a bucket of water. Do they need alarms too? My heart breaks when I hear of kids drowning. If I thought for 1 minute that it would save every child, I would be behind it 100%.

  24. Steve Rodie says:

    On the surface doesn’t this new law just give you that warm fuzzy feeling that we here in Tennessee will stop at nothing to protect children. Here again we the people have been subjected to yet another unnecessary law. This law was introduced, probably in this case, by a person with good intensions. It was enacted however by elected officials scared not to favor such bills of people with special interests for fear they could be held accountable for not doing so at the ballot box and denying themselves re-election. Actions taken by government, like the passing of this new law, continue to erode the freedoms we used to enjoy in this country. Where personal responsibility used to be revered. Laws like this being passed more frequently everyday, give the trial lawyers another avenue in which to extort even more money from insurance companies and individuals in the name of fairness. Most people not directly involved in tragedies such as swimming pool accidents, have been lulled like drones, into believing that it will not affect them in any way. Wrong! The costs of litigation are spread throughout the entire population, through increased premiums by insurance companies, that affect everyone. You can not legislate away people taking personal responsibility for their actions, or lack thereof. One also has to come to the realization that accidents do happen and will continue to happen, no matter how many new laws are passed. We should however, remain vigilant in all that we undertake to do, to try our very best in preventing the preventable by using common sense. Yes, at least I think that most people still possess some common sense.

  25. Rosemarie says:

    I agree with the people here who are most critical of this law. I, too, think it is absolutely unnecessary. Children have drowned in bath tubs. Will we have to install an alarm there too now ? Children have fallen off boats and drowned. Will we all have to install specials screens on our boats now ? If people are incapable of watching their children it is most unjust to have everybody else pay for it.

  26. Vicki says:

    I am very sorry for the loss of the child. However, as both a mother, and a pool owner and pet owner, I disagree with the law. It is simply government imposing on our rights. Lets take responsibility for our actions people. If you have a child, you parent and monitor that child. You are responsible for the well being of that child. You take precautions to ensure their safety. If you decide you want to own a pool with a small child, their are certain sacrifices you must make in order to have a pool. One sacrifice you must never take your eyes off of your child when they are outside playing. As parents we know children cannot simply be told not to go near a pool. It is our responsiblity to make sure they dont. As a parent we sacrifice many things, and as a parent, we must sacrifice every waking moment watching over and monitoring our children and any other children that we might be caring for at the time. What will it be next, alarms for faucets in our bathtubs, sensors and alarms around oublic lakes and ponds in parks? The only reason this law is in effect is because this tragedy happened to someone in POWER!

  27. Margaret says:

    I have an above ground pool now off my patio with a fenced deck and a alarm on the patio door. The kids know no one is allowed in the pool unless there’s an adult on the patio or in the pool and larger inflatables are not allowed in when little kids that can’t touch the bottom are in the pool.

    It’s really hard to keep clean once the leaves start falling so I’m planning a deeper indoor inground pool when the kids are older. I’ve reviewed the law and guess what – I need a pool alarm for my indoor pool. My plan is to install a monitored security system for the pool building so if someone opens the door or there’s any motion in the building I will know about it pronto. The monitored security system is only a couple hundred dollars more than a good pool alarm costs and I thought the security system was a better option. But the people in Nashville know better…

  28. tracy says:

    my son has 3 children 5,2,3days,he has a neighbor that has in ground pool 50 foot from the line.the pool has no fence no kind protection,i dont know what to do.they have been asked to put up barrier.he is in the army and she is a teacher. i thought they where suppose to protect people.anyway 3yr just died in our town is it so hard to put up a wire fence.point me in the direction i should go.

  29. Greg says:


    If having a fence around a pool is required in your area, the best place for you to go is code enforcement. They will look into the issue and usually send out a code enforcement officer to investigate it.


  30. lynne brown says:

    I just purchased an above ground pool from wal mart…not noticing the sign that said all TN pools must have an alarm…it is the convenient blue and white like all the other signage in the store, so you don’t even notice it, and I actually bought mine on-line and there was no mention anywhere that I had to have a pool alarm. All that aside, I bought the 18 ft. Intex all vinyl pool…and there seems to be no one in the state of TN who sells the floating alarm you must use in it. Wal mart sells it online…with a week delivery…they do not even carry the alarm. I think they should have to carry pool alarms if they are going to sell pools…just my thoughts

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