Drowning is one of the major causes of death for NSW children under the age of five. Each year on average 10 children under 5 years old drown in backyard swimming pools and many more suffer brain damage and other serious injuries associated with near-drowning experiences. With an estimated 340,000 backyard swimming pools in NSW, swimming pool safety is an issue that affects the whole community.
In response to these statistics the NSW State Government introduced changes to swimming pool regulations, aimed at reducing the incidence of children drowning in backyard pools.
As a swimming pool owner you are responsible for ensuring your pool is enclosed with a child safe barrier and access to it is restricted to children at all times. You are also responsible for ensuring it is maintained and that it complies with relevant Australian Standards and laws.
If you have a backyard swimming pool, you need to be aware of your responsibilities.
What is the definition of a Swimming Pool?
Swimming pool means an excavation, structure or vessel:
- that is capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 300 millimeters, and
- that is solely or principally used, or that is designed, manufactured or adapted to be solely or principally used, for the purpose of swimming, wading, paddling or any other human aquatic activity,
- this includes a spa pool, but does not include a spa bath. Anything that is situated within a bathroom or anything declared by the regulations not to be a swimming pool for the purpose of the Act.
You must, by law, have a four sided fence around any pool that is capable of being filled with water greater than 300mm in depth. This includes demountable, inflatable and portable (wading) pools.
If you cannot afford to provide a fence around an inflatable/portable pool that is capable of being filled with water greater than 300mm in depth your only option is to purchase a smaller inflatable pool that is less than 300mm in height that you can easily empty and put away after each use.
The Swimming Pools Act requires the owner/ occupier of premises on which a swimming pool is located to:
- Ensure that the pool is at all times surrounded by an approved child resistant barrier.
- Maintain the barrier in a state of good repair, and to ensure that all gates or doors providing access to the swimming pool are kept securely closed and latched at all times when not in actual use.
- Display a warning notice in the immediate vicinity of the swimming pool, detailing resuscitation techniques together with a supervision warning.
- Register their swimming pool or spa on the NSW Swimming Pool Register.
a) If you have not yet registered please do so as soon as possible, or alternatively Council can register your pool on your behalf for a $10 fee.
Please Note: Registration provisions also apply to "temporary" and portable swimming pools capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 300mm.
There are two ways you can register your pool:
Selling or leasing a property with a swimming pool or spa
A swimming pool owner must obtain a swimming pool compliance certificate before they can sell or lease their property. The swimming compliance certificate certifies that the swimming pool barrier fencing complies with the relevant standard. The swimming pool compliance certificate is valid for a period of 3 years.
A swimming pool compliance certificate can be obtained from Council by completing the application form Request for a Pool Barrier Inspection(PDF, 256KB). Please note there is a fee applicable at the time of lodgment of the application. Once Council has received your application, a Council Officer will contact you to arrange a suitable time to undertake an inspection of your swimming pool barrier fencing.
Pool owners can make an application to Council for a Swimming Pool Compliance Certificate at any time, regardless of whether they intend on selling or leasing their property.
Pool Safety Tips
It is important to remember that while fencing may assist in reducing drowning incidents in backyard pools, the most effective way to prevent drowning incidents is for children to be adequately supervised by a parent or other responsible adult.
It is also recommended that children are taught to swim from an early age and adults undertake training in resuscitation techniques so they have the required skills to handle an emergency situation should it arise.
- Always keep your fence, gates, doors and windows locked, secured and in good condition. Check these items regularly.
- Always empty inflatable or portable (wading) pools when not in use.
- Always keep your gate and door latches and self-closing mechanisms in good working order.
- Always close your gates and doors when not in actual use. Never prop gates open.
- Never leave climbable objects near the fence.
- Always keep trees, shrubs and creepers trimmed well away from the fence.
- Always leave your filter covered so small children can’t get into it and keep chemicals out of view and reach.
- Always supervise children around the pool at all times. A fence is no substitute for responsible supervision.
- Never rely upon older siblings should to supervise younger children, no matter how confident you are about their ability to watch the younger child.
- Children are not capable of such responsibility.
- Teach your children to swim from an early age and familarise them with the water but never assume they are not likely to drown.
- Undertake resuscitation (CPR) training for emergency situations and ensure warning signs are always visible.