Safety fencing for private swimming pools
Pools can be great fun but they have the potential to be a tragedy. Council has your safety in mind and wants you to enjoy your pool.
Drowning of young children can happen quickly and silently. When using a swimming pool, children should always be supervised. Young children should be taught to float and swim at the earliest possible age.
Bega Valley Shire Council has been conducting a swimming pool safety inspection program since 1996. The purpose of the program is to carry out safety inspections on all domestic pools within the Shire to ensure fencing is provided around pools in accordance with state legislation.
Pool users should be aware that if there is a death or injury in a pool, legal liability may fall on the person responsible for the pool at the time, even if a safety fence is installed.
Under the Swimming Pools Act 1992 the owner of a swimming pool has the responsibility to ensure that the pool is at all times surrounded by a complying child-resistant pool safety barrier. Pool safety barriers must be maintained in a good state of repair as an effective and safe barrier restricting access to the pool.
Pool safety is a system of child-resistant barriers that restrict access to the pool area by children. Two factors are consistently identified with pool drowning and near drowning; access to the pool and adult supervision.
If access to the pool is restricted and maintained the child is more likely to be supervised as someone has to let the child into the pool area.
"It is a sad fact that for every drowning death victim there are three to four near drowning survivors and that over 22% of near drowning victims are left with severe or persisting consequences."
Samuel Morris Foundation Director, Michael Morris.
With over 300,000 backyard swimming pools in NSW, swimming pool safety is a vital issue that affects the whole community. In NSW, private or ‘backyard’ swimming pool safety is legislated by the Swimming Pools Act 1992 and the Swimming Pools Regulation 2008.
In NSW, an average of 11 children under five years of age drown annually, with a further 62 children being admitted to hospital each year for near drowning. Children under five years of age have the highest mortality rate out of any age group, with approximately 70% of drowning deaths occurring in swimming pools.
Pool fencing gives added protection by preventing access to the pool area. However, inadequate pool fencing continues to be a major contributing factor in the rate of drowning among children under five years of age.
If you own a pool or rent a property with a pool, you have a direct impact on pool safety. You are should be part of the Action Plan for Pool Safety and you should check their swimming pool regularly throughout the year, especially in the months leading up to summer.
Pool fencing is designed to save children's lives by preventing their access to pools. However, it is alarming to see that the majority of children under five years of age who drown in swimming pools, do so as a result of fencing that is not compliant with the legislation
In other words, pool fencing that is not working or not being used as designed is contributing to the number of children drowning. A four sided fence, that does not include any part of the home, has proven to be the safest.
The relevant legislative documents for pool safety are:
Information on water safety when around swimming pools and resuscitation:
Additional information can be found by contacting Council’s Planning & Environment Group on 02 64 992222 during office hours.
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