inflatable swimming pool safety and preventing backyard drowning
New laws needed to prevent backyard drownings in small swimming pools

New inflatable pool laws may prevent drownings

New laws coming into effect soon will hopefully eliminate a lethal killer, responsible for a fifth of our backyard drownings, the portable pool also known as a paddling pool or inflatable pool.

These pools don’t require a Development Application if the capacity is less than 2000 litres. In other words, there is no need for a Certifying Authority to check on inflatable swimming pool safety compliance.

Backyard drowning statistics

Between 2007 and 2014, 10 children drowned in backyard pools and 100% of those didn’t have barriers in place.

Definition of a swimming pool?

A swimming pool is defined by the Swimming Pool Act as “an excavation, structure or vessel that is capable of being filled with water to a depth greater than 300 mm that is solely or principally used, or that is designed, manufactured or adapted to be solely or principally used for the purpose of swimming, wading, paddling or any other human aquatic activity.”

Backyard pools such as these are sold in our favourite stores with photos of people having fun in the sun.

Who’s responsible for inflatable swimming pool safety and compliance?

Do the boxes that inflatable pools come in tell you they need to comply with As 1926.1? If a Certifying Authority does not need to check pool compliance when the capacity is under 2000 litres, then who does ? Do normal mum and dads ever read Australian Standards or know where to find them?

Legislation relating to inflatable pool safety is confusing

The message communicated is that if authorities don’t check the pools, then compliance isn’t that serious or required. The relevant legislation is totally confusing for authorities to monitor and enforce and for pool owners to follow.

So what can we do to prevent another 10 children from drowning, to prevent another 10 families with friends, neighbours and countless other connections from being devastated by such tragedies? Typically, many family members especially the parents never fully recover from such horrendous loss.

The swimming pool act

The Swimming Pool Act states that an excavation, structure or vessel capable of being filled up greater than 300 mm is a pool if used for swimming or similar activities.

What if a pool is manufactured to manipulate this law so that it has a 299 mm maximum depth? Does that mean a child can’t drown in it? Were there tests conducted to determine that children can’t drown at a certain depth and if so by who?

I challenge you to look back at this article and count the number of question marks in it!

As a pool owner, a pool certifier and a father of two, I know I would be able to offer a lot to those who are writing swimming pool legislation; one thing I would like to see implemented is that if you own a pool, it should be compulsory that you obtain CPR training and qualifications.

If spas can have a lockable lid, why can’t we make it compulsory for pools to have child proof covers?

Take a moment to contemplate what I just said:

All pool owners including myself would have to have their pool covered when it is not being used.”

Would that mean that backyard drowning statistics would instantly disappear instead, becoming statistics detailing how many people forgot to cover their pool? If so, by what percentage would the drowning stats decrease?

Suggestions and solutions for inflatable swimming pool safety to prevent drownings

With new-age, green ideas on energy conservation all the rage at the moment, we could even make those covers solar powered or thermal blankets.

I conducted an inspection on a very expensive home recently in Vaucluse that had an electric cover that retracted into invisible housing. Yet I still haven’t seen that cover because it wasn’t on the pool, even though the pool was not in use!

Should we have made these covers compulsory a few years back and made them tax deductible for homeowners instead of filling peoples ceilings with free insulation? How many children would still be alive today?

Are the new laws going to prevent drownings?

In my opinion, yet another Australian Standard or the latest one we have now, cannot stop children growing to a height at around 7 years old where they can reach a latch that is only 1.5 m above ground level.

We teach our children to drag a chair over to open the latch by hiding chips and chocolates on the top shelf in the pantry at home.

We need to wake up and get serious because one more child drowning is one too many!

  • Possible new laws suggest portable pools will need to be registered at the point of sale and fencing inspected, certified and inspected before the pool can be used.
  • Possible new laws suggest a large warning sign would have to be printed on the bottom of pool packaging and of the pool itself, setting out the legal installation requirements.
  • Possible new laws could stipulate that portable pools can be sold only by outlets that also sell conforming pool fencing.
  • Do the legislative authorities believe that retailers have a key responsibility to play?

Let’s see what happens 12 months from the April 29 deadline

Statistics tell the truth.

In my opinion, we are about the distance of a pool fence away from the water from stopping our kids from drowning – a cover would stop the drownings and the real point of entry we need to concentrate on is … the water!

Not sure if your pool is compliant? Ask us to inspect your pool or spa and show you how to prepare it to save a child’s life … call Paul Cavallo on 0419 868 008

Scroll to Top