A pool is a great asset for the home and family, but pools can also be a potential danger for young children. Private swimming pools are the single most significant water danger for pre-schoolers according to Water Safety New Zealand drowning statistics.
The Fencing of Swimming Pools Act exists to protect young children from the dangers of unfenced swimming pools and spa pools. It does this by requiring owners to fence their pools.
Pool owners, people with pools on their property and this Council all have duties under the Act.
Pool owners must tell the Council that they have a pool. Those intending to get a pool must also tell the Council by applying for a building consent prior to construction. All pools must be fenced to the standard set in the Act. If a pool is not fenced to this standard, the owner must ensure that the pool is kept empty.
Those renting or leasing a property with a pool must also ensure the pool is empty if the pool fence does not comply with the Act.
This Council is required to take all reasonable steps to make sure the Act is complied with.
What pools need to be fenced?
All private swimming pools and spa pools have to be fenced unless:
> The maximum depth of water does not exceed 400mm.
> The walls of the pool are no less than 1.2 metres above the ground or any permanent object.
> The pool is wholly enclosed within a building whose principle use is not for swimming.
Where must the fence be situated?
The fence must only surround the pool and the area immediately around the pool. This area can only include things used in association with the pool, for example, changing sheds, filter shed, pump house, seating, decking and paving. It should not include the clothes line, vegetable garden, driveway or area used for other outdoor activities.
Can pool owners be exempted from the Act?
Pool owners can apply to the Council for an exemption from the Act. The Council can grant exemptions from the Act, or specify certain conditions that the pool or the property must meet provided that it is satisfied the exemptions or conditions would not significantly increase danger to young children.
Pool fencing guidelines
Pool fencing should prevent children up to six years old from climbing over, under or through it to gain access to a pool. Check that:
- All fencing is at least 1.2m above ground level and there is a 1.2m wide unobstructed clear area around the outside (so for example, if there is decking within 1.2m of the fence, then the fence must be at least 1.2m above the level of the decking).
- No space under the bottom of the gate or fence is greater than 100mm at any point.
- There are no holes or gaps between fence pickets or bars in excess of 100mm that may provide children access to the pool area.
- Horizontal support rails on the outside of a fence are at least 900mm apart. (Council recommends that there be no horizontal braces on the outside of a fence).
- Gates open away from the pool and automatically close and latch from an opening distance as small as 150mm.
- Gate hinges, automatic closing devices and latches work properly at all times.
- Any windows in walls forming part of the pool fence that are less than 1.2m from the floor do not open more than 100mm.
- Any doors in walls forming part of the pool fence are fitted with a self-closer capable of latching the door shut from a distance of 150mm from the closed position. The latch must be at least 1.5m above finished floor level.
- There are no objects close to the pool fence or otherwise accessible that could assist young children climbing the fence particularly where the property boundary fence forms part of the pool fence. Check that:
- Horizontal supports on the neighbour's side of the fence are no less than 900mm apart, (or ask your neighbour to remove the braces).
- There are no objects like compost bins, firewood stacks or similar that could assist young children climbing the fence.
- There are no trees within 1.2m of the outside of the fence that could assist young children climbing the fence.
Need further information?
Council Building Officers can provide you with the information you need.