Swimming and paddling pools are very much part of the traditional Kiwi summer. After all, who doesn't love a cooling dip in the pool? But it is important to check if your pool is safe or not. As of 1st January 2017, the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 is no longer in effect. There are new regulations in place through the Building Act now. So I can hear you asking ‘Do I need a fence for my pool?’
Let’s check to see if your pool area is up to standard, if you need a fence, when you don’t need one and the rules that you need to play by.
Do I need a pool fence?
The recent change in regulations means that many New Zealanders keen to enjoy summer are actually breaking the law. How you ask? Well the rules have changed.
The Fencing Of Swimming Pools Act 1987 is out and the new safety provisions for pools are stipulated in the Building Act instead. The act states that any pools deeper than 400mm are now subject to these safety provisions. If safety inspectors find that a pool does not comply with the provisions, the owners are liable for a $5,000 fine.
As per the Building Act, your pool rules are:
any pool deeper than 400mm should be fully enclosed with a fence that is at least 1.2m in height and should include a self closing gate that opens outwards,
the water supply should have a non-returnable valve attached so that water cannot flow back into the mains supply while filling the pool,
all domestic pool areas will need to be inspected every 3 years by a safety inspector,
these rules apply to any pool type, including in ground pools, above ground pools, indoor pools and portable pools.
While retailers are required to provide safety warnings on the boxes of portable pools deeper than 400mm, people may not be aware the rules apply to them. Regardless of the type of pool, they must all be safely secured to prevent risk to young children.
When don't I need a pool fence?
A pool fence is not required if your pool is less than 400mm deep. However, it is still recommended that any paddling pools are emptied each day to prevent any risk of drowning.
Maintenance and rule abiding
It is not just enough to install a fence and leave it at that. Your pool fence must remain safe at all times. That means proper upkeep and maintenance is required to ensure you pool area is fully enclosed. So any damage or wear and tear needs to be repaired immediately.
It also means that the gate should always be functioning. Faulty or inappropriate gates need to be repaired or replaced so that they always open outwards and self latch. Simple maintenance like lubricating the latches and tensioning or replacing the springs can keep gates functioning as they should.
Gate maintenance is vital. Faulty pool gates are the number one cause of swimming fatalities in young children who have gained access to a restricted swimming area. In 2017 there were six preventable drownings in domestic swimming pools.
Don’t let your pool area be the cause of an unnecessary drowning, make sure you are abiding by the safety regulations!
The best place to access information about the pool regulations in your area is via your local council. You can also read through the regulations themselves in the Building Code Clause F9 - Restricting access to residential pool.
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As with all our blogs, the information detailed here is general in nature and meant as a preliminary guide only. This should not be substituted for your own investigations or use of your own professional’s. Planning Plus is not liable for any errors or omissions.