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How to Make the Summer Swim Season Safe and Memorable - Safety-Check Your Pool Area to Ensure it Meets Pool Fence Laws

Photo by Anna Demianenko on Unsplash

With the year quickly drawing to close, not will the year’s work be taking a break but so too will many of us take the opportunity to unwind and spend some time by the pool. As the cool winter and spring months give way to summer’s warmth it is a timely reminder for everyone to be vigilant around pools. Pool safety is a top priority, especially if you have children who may be tempted to take a dip on some of those hot summer days that lay ahead.

Tragically, between July 1, 2002, and June 30, 2015, 128 children aged less than five years drowned in NSW, according to Royal Life Saving statistics. 83 of this preventable deaths occurred in private swimming pools. Sadly, there is a 10-year average of six drowning deaths per year in private swimming pools.

Pool safety is not just something we do to protect children. There is also a legal requirement in all Australian states to have a soundly built pool fence in good working order. Most local government areas have a certification program whereby local government inspectors must examine pool fences and certify that they are built to standard and are working properly.

In NSW since July 1, 2010, there have been stringent rules regarding pool fences which pool owners need to be aware of and abide by. These rules regulate the type, construction, and dimensions of pool fences across NSW.

Key Features of Pool Fences

In recent years there have been a number of child deaths from drowning in pools where there was a pool fence in place. This has drawn attention to the quality of fences around pools and there are now minimum standards in place governing what a pool fence must look and function like.

Pool fences must be a minimum height of 1200 mm or 1.2 metres, although it is ok if the height is greater than this. The main concern is that children should not be able to get over the fence. If the pool fence is against a boundary fence it must be 1800 mm or 1.8 metres tall.

One case earlier in 2017 involved a child who squeezed between the vertical pool fence bars. In addition to height, therefore, the gap between vertical bars or palings must be no greater than 100 mm or 10 cm.

Determined children have found their way under fences. NSW pool fence regulations address this by requiring pool owners to ensure there is maximum clearance from the ground of no greater than 100 mm or 10 cm.

To prevent children from climbing up and over a pool fence, where a fence has horizontal bars or palings the gap between them must be 900 mm or 90 cm. This makes it difficult for children to use the fence itself to climb over and get into trouble.

Since the mandatory pool fence laws came into effect there have been cases where toddlers have used material close to a pool to lift themselves over a fence. To prevent children from doing this the law now requires pool owners to maintain a non-climbable zone around pool fences on both sides. 900 mm or 90 cm outside the fence must be clear of anything that could be used by children to boost themselves over a pool fence and into danger. Pot plants, shrubs, trees, ladders, toys, and anything that children could use to help themselves climb over the fence must be removed. The non-climbable zone also extends 30 cm or 300 mm inside the pool fence. Optimum pool safety requires both areas to be clear of objects.

One area of concern recently has been pool fence gate mechanisms and latches. It is very important they are kept in good working order. Latches and mechanisms will break-down and need replacing regularly. Make sure as you work through a pool safety checklist you test your pool fence’s gate and its latch mechanism.

It is also worthwhile remembering that inflatable pools are also subject to pool fence laws. If your pool this summer is going to be a temporary inflatable pool, make sure you are compliant with NSW pool fence legislation.

Making swim safety throughout this summer a priority will help to keep kids safe. Good pool safety on your property will help this summer swim season be memorable for all the right reasons.

More Information

For the latest in pool fence regulation news please visit the NSW Department of Fair Trading website at

Why not safety-test your pool fence before pool fence certifiers arrive? Take a look at this handy checklist at

For Landlords, check with your property manager to make sure your pool fence is meeting the regulatory requirements and has recently been safety-tested.

Call your 1on1 Property Manager on 4014 1900 to see if we can help you manage your property’s summer swim safety this holiday season.

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