Restrict Access

A toddler girl wearing a pink dress standing by a black metal pool fence

Q.What does restricting access mean?

A. Restricting access means ensuring there is a barrier between your child and a body of water. This can be done in two ways:
  • Barrier around the water – this includes a pool / spa fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate in accordance with AS1926, closing the door to the bathroom after use, using pool/spa/tank covers, placing mesh on water features and fish ponds, ensuring lids are securely on nappy buckets. Note: Inflatables over a depth of 300mm need to be fenced by law.
  • Barrier around the child – This takes the form of a Child Safe Play Area that can be used inside or outside the home and is especially effective for water you cannot fence like dams on farms.

Restricting access when combined with the other Keep Watch actions of Supervise, Water Familiarisation and Resuscitate are highly effective in preventing child drowning.

Q. Why do I have to fence my pool?

A. The fence acts as a barrier to the pool and as such, helps prevent access to the water by young children. In addition, pool fencing is a legal requirement in all States and Territories in Australia, and heavy penalties can be imposed for non-compliant pools. Royal Life Saving advises all parents and carers that supervision is the key to preventing toddler drowning deaths, but a fence with a self closing gate is essential in providing an extra line of protection. With toddlers’ curious nature and fast feet, in no time at all they can be in the water.

Q.Why do barriers fail?

A. Barriers can fail when gates are left propped open, fences and gates aren’t maintained and climbable objects are left against the fence. Royal Life Saving encourages parents and guardians to regularly inspect their pool by downloading and completing a home pool safety checklist.

Q. What do I do on rural properties?

A. On rural properties, where it is not feasible to fence off a dam or lake, Royal Life Saving encourages parents to create a “child safe area” close to the home and away from water bodies. This area should be enclosed and you should supervise your child at all times in this area.

Q. I don’t have children, why do I need to fence my pool?

A. Not having children does not mean that a child will not drown in your pool. A significant percentage of toddler pool drowning deaths do not occur in their own backyard, but in relatives, friends or neighbours pools.

Q. What sort of gate do I need?

A. The gate of the pool fence is crucial in preventing a child’s access to the pool. Many people leave their pool gates propped open, or have gates that close but do not lock. A child does not need a great deal of strength to push open an unlocked gate. The gate to the pool must be both self closing and self latching.

Q. How often should I check the fence to make sure it is in good working order?

A. Royal Life Saving recommends you conduct a thorough check of your fence every year before summer (and a quick check at least once a month) to ensure that it is not climbable, is in good repair, the gate when opened fully closes by itself and locks, there are no loose palings or support members, and there are no gaps under or through the fence.

  • Ensure a current resuscitation poster is displayed on the inside of the pool fence.  You can purchase one at our online shop.
  • On rural properties, create a safe area away from water where you can supervise your child. Information about building a safe play area can be obtained from Farmsafe Australia.
  • Learn resuscitation. Enrol now.
  • Check the fence on a regular basis, give yourself a reminder.

Real Life Story - Home Pool Safety

“After hearing about Royal Life Saving’s Home Pool Safety Initiative on television, I was so moved by the information presented I decided to inspect our pool fence in detail. We have recently had our first child and she is very keen on water, she loves our home pool almost too much. When inspecting the fence I found two base screws rusted through and snapped off, leaving one piece of our fence on only 2 rusting screws. Consequently I knocked off early today and repaired the fence with new screws and mounting."

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