Domestic pools, swimming or spa, in-ground or portable, are a great asset, providing many hours of fun and activity for the family, however statistics clearly show that they present a significant danger for young children.
The good news is that the collective efforts to reduce child drownings in home pools are working. In the five years 2008-2012 there were 10 preschool (0-4yrs) drownings in home pools, whereas in the most recent five year period (2012-2016) this was reduced to five nationwide, three in the Auckland region. However, there is no room for complacency.
Direct access from the dwelling to the pool remains the main danger for one to three-year-olds. The good news is that all these drownings are preventable through isolation fencing, active supervision and employing other layers of protection. Fencing must be compliant and, as Auckland Council Pool Inspector Jeremy Kirwan explains in this video, many pool inspections fail because of simple things, that could be easily fixed, or avoided, by regular maintenance.
Changes in legislation
As of 1 January 2017, the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 is no longer in effect. Legislation relating to pool barriers and pool fencing is now included in the Building Act 2004. The Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 created a new Building Code Clause F9 – Means of restricting access to residential pools.
The Act applies to all residential pools and spas with a maximum depth of 400mm or more. Pools that are filled or partly filled with water must have physical barriers that restrict access to the pool by unsupervised children under 5 years of age. It also means that all residential pools, including indoor swimming pools, will now require a compliant barrier as well as be inspected every three years.
If pool barriers were constructed and installed after 1987, and complied with the Schedule of the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987, then they will probably still comply with the new legislation, although there are some exceptions.
The Standards NZ NZS 8500:2006 Safety barriers and fences around swimming pools, spas and hot tubs remains a guidance document for compliance. See www.standards.co.nz for details.
Your Pool. Your Responsibility.
Your Pool. Your Responsibility is an ongoing campaign, in conjunction with Auckland Council, that aims to reduce fatal drowning and immersion injuries such as neurological damage in this age group.
It highlights the responsibility of pool owners to keep young children safe by providing approved pool fencing that complies with the regulations set by the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act and to also have secondary layers of protection in place. ‘Your Pool Your Responsibility’ also reminds parents and caregivers that there is no substitute for active supervision of children at all times in or near the pool.
A comprehensive list of barriers to keep children safer around your pool can be found in Related Files Panel and to find out more about the Layers of Protection visit that page. *While these brochures reference the old FOSP Act (1987) they do offer broader advice that helps ensure your pool is a safer place for young children.
Remember also, that portable / inflatable spa and swimming pools come with responsibilities as well.