Here are some chilling statistics: sixteen toddlers have died in Western Australia because of accidental drowning in pools over the last five years. For each of those deaths, there are ten cases of children admitted in hospitals after a near-drowning incident. That’s a hundred and sixty cases of near-drowning in the last five years. Ninety-four percent of these incidents occurred in or around the home.
The most tragic aspect of these incidents is that every single one of them was easily preventable. There are very specific state laws intended to protect children from such accidents. The legislative framework that outlines such protections are made of three different legal documents. These laws include The Building Act 2011, The Building Regulations 2012, and the Australian Standard AS 1926.1-1993 Part 1. Fences for Swimming Pools.
Owners and occupiers are responsible for the maintenance and smooth operation of any fence or barrier restricting access to pools and spas. Barriers such as slat fencing, which is easily available online through retailers such as boardwalk.com.au, must be above ground for pools exceeding three hundred millimetres in depth. Wading pools with depths less than three hundred millimetres don’t require barriers, but guardian still need to recognise them as potential sources of danger.
The barriers need to be of durable material, as well as an effective height of no less than a hundred and twenty millimetres from the top to the finished ground surface. The barriers need to be as vertical as possible; in cases where this is impossible, the barriers must not lean more than fifteen degrees towards the pool.
Some Standards will require homeowners to include windows for supervision purposes, which may force them to incur additional costs. Depending on the territory, this rule may bend if the barriers around the pool provide the visual contact necessary for supervision. But, parents need to ensure that such gaps in fencing don’t provide hand and foot access that will allow children to climb over the barrier.
Noncompliance will merit such owners penalties in the form of substantial fines, as well as run the risk of needlessly endangering the lives of young children.