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Staying safe around pools this summer

Published: 21 December 2020

Summer’s here and Auckland Council is urging pool owners to keep vigilant as the weather heats up.

The leading causes of preschool children drowning in pools are unsupervised access to pools through faulty gates and barriers, ladders left against the pool and gates propped open, and small portable pools remaining full of water without supervision or a complying barrier.

This month the council’s summer pool safety campaign begins sharing these important messages:

  • Stay close to children when playing around water
  • Eyes on! Don’t get distracted
  • Never prop pool gates open
  • Check your gate latches are working
  • Empty portable pools when not in use

To see if your pool is safe, you can find our full inspection checklist and safety videos online.

More than 30,000 residential pools are registered with Auckland Council and council staff check compliance of pools every three years.

However, the council also urges pool owners to carry out their own maintenance and inspections on a regular basis – to ensure ongoing safety.

Why you need to restrict access to your pool

The leading causes of children, five and younger, drowning or being injured in pools are:

  • unsupervised access to pools through faulty gates and barriers
  • ladders left against the pool and gates propped open
  • small portable pools remaining full of water without supervision or a complying barrier

Any portable or inflatable pool that can hold 400mm depth of water or more is required to have a barrier by law. Other portable pools like paddling pools should be supervised at all times and emptied after use.

Restrict access to your pool

By law, all pools, including small-heated pools (spas, hot tubs, etc), must have a barrier to prevent unsupervised access to the immediate pool area by children younger than five years old.

A pool barrier must restrict access to the pool from:

  • the house
  • other buildings
  • vehicle or pedestrian access ways
  • other areas of the property

Pool barrier safety checklist

Pool barriers:

  • must restrict access to the pool and the immediate pool area
  • must be at least 1.2m in height above the ground and any permanent projection (for example, steps, retaining walls, raised gardens, etc) or object placed on the ground outside and within 1.2m of the barrier
  • must have no climbable features on the outside of the barrier (or adjoining barrier) that could be used for climbing unless they are spaced at least 900mm apart
  • must not have any gaps that exceed 100mm in or under it, including pet doors

Trellis or mesh fencing around the pool:

  • higher than 1.8m must have openings 50mm or less, or be fitted with a protective cover
  • with height between 1.2m - 1.8m must have openings 10mm or less, or be fitted with a protective cover

Ensure there are no trees that could assist young children climbing the fence.

External removable ladders must be disabled or removed after use. For pools installed after 1 January 2017, ladders are not allowed unless they are surrounded by a complying barrier and gate.

Pool gates

Gates into the pool area must:

  • open away from the pool area
  • self-close and self-latch unaided from any distance
  • comply with the rules for fences

The gate latch must be:

  • a minimum of 1.5m above the ground and any objects within 1.2m of the barrier, if accessible from the outside of the barrier
  • inaccessible from the outside except by reaching at least 1.2m if mounted on the inside of the gate
  • for pools installed from 1 January 2017, if the latch is accessible only by reaching over the gate, it must be set at least 150mm from the top or be shielded.
  • If the latch is accessible only by reaching over the gate, it must be set at least 150mm from the top or be shielded

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