Swimming pool fencing protects the children closest to us
14 December 2004
Children can be quick, nimble and very quiet when they know they are doing something their parents wouldn’t like. A deadly combination when it involves an inadequately fenced swimming or spa pool and an inquisitive child.
According to Christchurch City Council Environmental Monitoring team leader Willis Heney, most children who have drowned in a New Zealand swimming pool or spa pool have been known to the owners of the pool – a son or daughter, a friend’s child or maybe the little one next door.
“Making sure your swimming pool fencing fully complies with government regulations will go a long way to ensuring your peace of mind if you are going to have young ones at your place during the Christmas holidays,” he said. “It is also vital that you watch children when they are in or around water.”
Christchurch swimming and spa pool owners who flout fencing regulations can also expect to pay stiff financial penalties, this summer. Pool fences that do not meet the requirements of the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act can attract fines of up to $500, Mr Heney said. “If a child drowns as a result of non compliance, swimming pool owners can face fines of up to $200,000 and possible imprisonment.”
Non-compliance includes tying swimming pool gates back for easy access to the pool “An alarming trend in recent years,” Mr Heney said.
Pool owners have a legal obligation to ensure that their swimming pool or spa pool is fenced in accordance with the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act and that the fencing is maintained or the pool remains empty.
Under the law, the immediate area around a swimming or spa pool must be enclosed by a fence at least 1.2 metres high. The fence must be built in durable materials and able to stop a child up to the age of six from climbing over or under it. The door or gate giving access to the pool area must open away from the pool and be self-closing. The self-latching gate must never be propped open. French doors and windows opening into the pool area must also be fitted with effective self-closers and devices to limit how far windows can be opened.
For further information, call the Council’s environmental monitoring team on 941-8406 or visit www.ccc.govt.nz/hazards/whyfencepools
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