New Zealand is an island country with easy access to the surrounding ocean, as well as rivers, lakes, and swimming pools, so it’s no surprise that swimming in summer is deeply ingrained in our Kiwi culture. Most young children adore playing in and around water, so they need to be supervised vigorously whenever they are around bodies of water. That’s why swimming pool fences must also be installed as a backup barrier in case young kids get away from the supervision of adults.
Whilst swimming pools are heaps of fun, they can also be a source of potential harm. That’s why New Zealand has laws regarding both the swimming pool installation process as well as its surrounding areas. New pools must always be completely fenced to limit access to anyone who shouldn’t be alone in a swimming pool.
When pool fencing legislation was first introduced back in 1987, about 10 children on average drowned each year in New Zealand swimming pools. The introduction of these stronger regulations helped reduce this number down to 2 children each year, but that is still 2 too many. New Zealand still has one of the highest rates of fatal drowning, with many of these deaths being entirely preventable, which is why pool fencing is so important.
Residential pools including plunge pools and inground spa, or hot tubs must all comply with the safety provisions enacted by the NZ Building Act of 2004. All contemporary swimming pools that are filled with over 40cm of water are required by law to be properly fenced with physical barriers that restrict the access of unsupervised children to keep our youngsters safe. This rule applies to all pools no matter what the size, including temporary and inflatable swimming pools that are sold in department stores and other shops.
There are several specific requirements for swimming pool fences, but they generally must be at least 1.2m high with a self-closing gate that has a child-proof or lockable latch installed at least 1.5m high. There are many options for pool fences, but you should opt for one that gives you a clear view of the pool so you can supervise effectively. You should also be aware that there can’t be anything within 1.2 meters of the fence that is climbable in any way, which includes established trees of any height, swimming pool accessories, garden furniture, pool equipment, or even barbeques, which will have an impact on some design ideas.
Hot tubs and spas that aren’t fenced now require compliant child-resistant and lockable safety covers. This sort of barrier is applicable when every wall of the small heated pool is not less than 760mm above the floor or ground that is adjacent, and when those pool walls do not allow for climbing. These safety covers must restrict access when closed, withstand a decent load without breaking, be easily closed, and have signage indicating how the child safety features work.
Understanding the legal requirements for pool fencing and ensuring it is compliant with all NZ laws can be a little complicated, but you don’t have to be a pool expert if you’re working with experts. Discussing your options for swimming pool design and fencing with specialists like the team at Narellan Pools is always highly recommended. We will make time to talk with you at home or visit you onsite to discuss exactly what you want while providing you with the very latest information and sound advice on what you need to meet regulations. Remember… Stay cool but fence your pool.