Portable pool safety warning

8 February 2016

With the current run of hot weather, the Royal Life Saving Society WA is reminding parents and carers of the risk that portable pools can pose to young children. Drowning remains the leading cause of preventable death in children aged 0-4 years in WA, and in the last 10 years 10% of drowning deaths in this age group occurred in portable pools of various sizes.

While the best way to prevent toddlers from drowning is adequate adult supervision around water at all times, in the event that parents lose sight of children, taking steps to restrict access to portable pools will also significantly reduce the risk.

Lauren Nimmo, Senior Manager Health Promotion and Research says “portable pool owners may think that pool fencing rules don’t apply to them because they see the pool as a temporary structure, but the fact is that if a portable pool can hold water 300mm (30cm) or more deep it is subject to exactly the same pool fencing legislation as a below-ground pool.“

The potentially tragic consequence of not fencing a portable pool was seen late last year, with at least two toddlers hospitalised after drowning in portable pools in December. In both cases the pool was not fenced and the child entered the water unnoticed by adults.

In Western Australia the pool fencing legislation means that the pool must be surrounded by a compliant barrier at least 1200mm (1.2m) high on all sides and the gate must be self-closing and self-latching.

“Portable pool packaging must now display warning labels stating that pool fencing legislation applies to the product but people also need to do their research on the specific barrier requirements before buying one of these pools. The ultimate cost of a $60 inflatable pool may be a sizeable fine from your local council or far more worryingly, the serious injury or even death of a child” said Ms Nimmo.

Royal Life Saving Society WA also recommends that small paddling pools less than 300mm deep should be emptied out after every use and stored on their side to prevent the pool filling with water from rain or sprinklers. Children should also not be left in the care of older siblings around pools of any depth of water.

Further information about pool barriers can be found on the WA Building Commission website, and prospective pool buyers are encouraged to contact their local government to discuss their specific requirements.

For more safety tips on portable pools check out our Your Safety pages.