Any pool or spa – even an inflatable or temporary pool - capable of holding water to a depth of 300mm or more must have a safety barrier and a building permit before being filled.
Drowning is one of the major causes of death for Australian children under 5 years of age, and in the 12 month period from 2011-2012, 34 children between 0-14 years old drowned in Australia, said Veronica Schilling, General Manager Development and Environment.
“This is a very real risk that householders must take seriously,” Ms Schilling said.
In the past 12 months the Council inspected 178 swimming pools and found that 106 (60%) had not complied. When a pool fence is found not to comply, the owner is issued with a minor works order and may be penalised with an on the spot fine of $200. Failure to undertake works within the designated timeframe may find the owner in the Magistrate’s Court facing a possible fine of over $30,000.
Ms Schilling said that while erecting appropriate barriers was important, it was just as important to check them regularly and carry out any necessary maintenance.
“KidSafe suggest that you check your pool safety barrier when you change your smoke detector batteries at the beginning and end of daylight savings,” Ms Schilling said. “So if you haven’t done it yet, please do it now.”
The most common faults with swimming pool barriers include gates that don’t self close and latch, gaps under and between the fence exceeding the maximum 100mm threshold, objects placed within the 900mm non climbable zone on the exterior of the pool barrier and 300mm non climbable zone on the inside of the pool barrier, and vegetation within 900mm of the external non climbable zone.
“Children are ingenious when it comes to getting into things, so please be sure BBQs, outdoor furniture and garden ornaments don’t become steps to access the pool,” Ms Schilling said.
Benalla Rural City Council has an obligation to inspect swimming pools and safety barriers under the Building Act and Building Regulations and is currently conducting audit inspections throughout the year.
If you are purchasing a temporary or inflatable pool from a department store, please check the height of the pool first. If you have any queries, please contact the Council’s Building Department on 5760 2600.