What you need to know
It can take very little water and very little time for a child to drown in a swimming pool. Babies and toddlers can drown in as little as 60mm of water. Drowning can happen quickly, and silently.
Since the year 2000, 45 children have drowned in home and portable pools. Research conducted by Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ) of drowning stats from between 2005 and 2019 indicate that home swimming pools, including portable pools, pose the greatest risk of fatal drowning among children under 5. For fatal drownings, when compared to beaches, children 0-4 years of age were 15 times more likely to drown in a home pool.
Before you buy and erect a portable swimming pool or spa you should know and be prepared to comply with the regulations designed to protect young children from the danger of drowning.
What you need to do
Here’s what you need to do.
Actively supervise children around pools
Active, constant adult supervision is essential when small children are using or around portable pools. Avoid distractions and always keep babies and toddlers within arms' reach around water.
Fence your pool
If you own or rent a property with a pool, it’s your responsibility to make sure it has a barrier.
The Building (Pools) Amendment Act 2016 requires all pools, including portable pools that can be filled to a depth of 40cm or more to have a physical barrier (fence) that restricts unsupervised access by children under 5 years of age and:
- Surrounds the pool and part or all the area around it.
- Has nothing on the outside that a child could use to climb over it.
Before buying a portable pool check the safety instructions and visit your local council website. This will provide guidance on your responsibilities as a pool owner and guidelines for barriers.
Empty pools when not in use
When not in use empty the pool and store it away safely.
Safety guidance for pool owners(external link) – Building Performance
Information for tenants and landlords(external link) – Tenancy Services
Eight ways to keep babies and toddlers water safe(external link) – Water Safety New Zealand