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Young girl wearing goggles holding side of a pool.

Pool fences save lives

Tuesday 08 January

Taking a dip in the backyard pool is one of the many joys of summer, but East Gippsland Shire Council is reminding residents of the importance of making sure pool fences are installed and meet the standards.


Council is also emphasising many of the inexpensive, portable above ground pools available at many shops legally require a fence that meets pool fence standards.


The fence needs a building permit, which is available from a private building surveyor.


Drowning is a leading cause of accidental death in young children; the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report showed last financial year 33 people fatally drowned in pools, 12 of them children aged under five.


Swimming pool drowning deaths in this age group have reduced by 20 per cent compared to the 10 year average.


Council’s Manager Statutory Services Aaron Hollow said this shows water safety initiatives like pool fencing and self-closing latches are having a real impact on reducing deaths.


“It is vital all pool barriers meet the current legal requirements. It is not just permanent pools and spas that need to have fences, the law applies to inflatable, portable pools as well – any pool or spa that is capable of holding more than 30 centimetres of water,” Mr Hollow said.


“Last financial year, 67 per cent of drowning deaths of children aged 0-4 years were in swimming pools. The most effective way to prevent fatal and non-fatal drowning is adult supervision; however, fencing is an additional safety net.”


Part of the fencing requirements include rules for the fence gate. All swimming pool gates must be self-latching and self-closing. It is also illegal to prop open a pool gate.


But the job is not done once your pool fence and gate meet the regulations.


Owners need to continually make sure there are no objects near the fence that could be used to climb the safety barrier and access the pool or spa area. Such items include:

  • chairs
  • pool pumps
  • bikes
  • tree branches
  • pot plants

New regulations will be introduced in Victoria next year, including a mandatory register of all pools and a regular inspection schedule.


Pool owners can download a self-assessment tool to check the safety of their pool fences, giving themselves time to address any issues before the new inspection regime begins.


The tool is available at the Victorian Building Authority’s website.


 Two young children wearing sunglasses and floaties in a pool.



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