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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Pool Fencing in Australia

Pool fencing is mandatory in all States and Territories in Australia, so if a pool is going into your backyard, so must a fence.

Almost half of all drowning deaths in the 0-5 year age group occur in backyard swimming pools, so pool fencing has an important role to play in preventing these tragic deaths.

Conforming to Australian Standards

When buying a pool fence, make sure it conforms to the Australian Standard 1926.1. Responsibility for ensuring pool fencing complies with appropriate legislation rests with local councils, so your first step should be to contact your council for specific advice.

There are slightly different fencing requirements for pools depending on when and where the pool was installed, but the following list should give you a good idea of whether your fence complies with legislation.
  • The pool fence should fully isolate the pool from the house and the neighbourhood.
  • A toddler should not be able to crawl under the gate or any other part of the fence (the gap between the bottom of the fence and the ground should be less than 10 cm).
  • The gate should be able to close by itself and latch shut. Check that it is able to swing freely to the closed position when open and latch securely.
  • The vertical or near vertical railings should be less than 10 cm apart to prevent a small child from squeezing through them.
  • The horizontal fence rails should be more than 90 cm apart so a small child cannot get a foothold to climb over the fence.
  • The positioning of the fence should be well clear (usually 1.2 m) of any objects such as BBQs, trees, rocks and shrubs that could help a small child climb onto the fence.
  • The gate release mechanism should be well above ground level (usually 1.5 m) or alternatively, located inside the gate and covered by an approved shield (usually at a height of 1.2 m).

What if I don’t have kids?

You still must have a pool fence even if you don’t have children. A significant percentage of toddler pool drowning deaths do not occur in their own backyard, but in relatives, friends or neighbours’ pools.
It is also your responsibility to erect and maintain a pool fence even if you are not living in the property yourself, i.e., you are a landlord and have tenants on your property.
In some states, for pools installed before a certain period (e.g., 1 Aug 1990 in NSW), it is permitted for you to have three-sided pool fencing that allows access to the pool through the rest of the house. In this case, all doors and windows leading to the house must be secure. For added safety and peace of mind you may want to consider upgrading to four-sided fencing, particularly if children use the pool.

Yearly Checks

Royal Life Saving recommends that you conduct a thorough check of your fence every year before summer (and a quick check at least once a month) to ensure that it is complies with the safety list above and is in a good state of repair.
Some councils conduct regular council inspections to make sure the fence is properly maintained and meets the requirements of the Australian standard. Other councils may offer an inspection service for a small fee, whereby they inspect your pool and issue you with a compliant certificate if your pool meets the legislation.

Common Sense Tips

Even with a pool fence, accidents can still happen, so make sure you take these safety precautions if you have a pool in your backyard.
  • Never prop the pool gate open.
  • Make sure there are no objects left near the fence that young children could use as a climbing aid to get over the fence.
  • Display a guide to resuscitation prominently near the pool.
  • Familiarise your children with water and teach them to swim as early as possible.
  • Learn resuscitation.
  • Make sure an adult is always supervising whenever children are in the pool.

Final Tip!

A study by the Australian Consumers Association found that pool fences with a loop design (in which tubular sections of pipe are bent through upper rails) are safer than those with a flat top design (in which tubular bars are fixed and spot-welded inside flat horizontal upper and lower rails). The study tested strength and rigidity if a child was trying to squeeze through the fence bars.

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5 comments :

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