Drowning is the most common cause of traumatic death in children aged under five years in Queensland. Approximately five toddlers drown in Queensland swimming pools every year. Almost all swimming pool drownings are preventable.
As the temperature increases, so too does the need to find a cool spot in which to relax and escape the heat, especially for children.
Many parents look to small inflatable pools for this relief but there are several issues parents should be aware of before buying these pools. Unfortunately, every year at Christmas time, a number of lives are lost around Australia due to children drowning in small pools. Sometimes, people just aren't aware that it only takes a small amount of water for a child to drown.
Please be aware that a pool fence/barrier requires a building works permit and a final inspection certificate. Any changes of material and layout to the current fence/barrier require a new building works permit.
New State pool fence laws
Please note: Logan City Council has transferred all registered regulated pool details to the state government to add to the State Pool Safety Register. Please check the register to see if your pool is registered. If your pool is not in the register, please contact the state government on its customer service number 13 13 04. State parliament passed legislation extending the deadline for the requirement for owners of regulated pools to register on the State Pool Safety Register by 4 November 2011.
How does this affect you?
- The new State pool fence standard: Both new and existing residential pools must be upgraded to comply with the new State standard within five years. This includes the phase out of child resistant doors used as pool barriers for exsiting pools i.e. self closing and self latching doors.
- The new State Sale and Lease compliance system: This five year compliance period is brought forward if the property is sold or leased. A Pool Safety Certificate will be required in this respect from a license Pool Safety Inspector. Please refer to the State Pool Safety Register.
- Portable pools and spas: These state laws are applicable to portable pools and spas deeper than 300 millimetres. Please ascertain the cost of a complying pool fence before you purchase a portable pool or spa.
- Pools under a body corporate (i.e. pool on common property that is 'shared'): These state laws are applicable 2 years from 1 December 2010.
- Pools at hotels, motels, caravan parks and other short term accommodation where the pool is 'shared': These state laws are applicable 6 months from 1 December 2010.
- Pool Safety Certificates: The term of a Pool Safety Certificate is 2 years for a non shared pool and 1 year for a shared pool.
- Registering your pool: You need to register your pool on the State Pool Safety Register within 6 months from 1 December 2010.
Obtaining a Pool Safety Certificate
- Refer to the relevant State Pool Safety Register
- Locate a pool safety inspector for your area from the register above and contact an inspector to engage their services.
- Only in strict circumstances of disability or impracticality can an exemption be granted.
- Please be advised that it is still a requirement to get a development permit from a private certifier after Council has made a decision if and to which extent an exemption for the pool fencing has been granted.
- Application must be made to Council and approved for an exemption:
- Application for Pool Safety Standard Exemption (PDF) (PDF 70 KB)
- Site-plan of development, which contains proposed alternative solutions to prevent a young child accessing the pool.
- Certificates where applicable.
- Supporting documentation of the alternative solutions.
- Council must be given access for a site inspection.
- Fees paid in full.
*Please take note that applications may be refused if the above-mentioned items are not supplied
Portable pools and spas
Portable pools and spas can pose a serious safety risk to young children. A number of child drownings in recent years have occurred in portable pools and spas. It is therefore important to consider the safety of young children around these pools.
If your portable pool or spa can hold more than 300 millimetres of water, has a volume of more than 2,000 litres or has a filtration system, the new laws apply to you. You will need to:
- Obtain a certificate from a licensed building certifier stating that your pool complies with the pool safety standard, before filling the pool or spa with more than 300 millimetres of water
- Obtain a building approval
- Register your pool or spa by 4 May 2011.
If you are selling, buying or leasing your property with a pool on or after 1 December 2010, a safety certificate is required from a licensed pool safety inspector. Alternatively, the portable pool or spa can be removed.
If your portable pool is disassembled and does not hold more than 300 millimetres of water, it does not need to comply with the pool safety standard until it is assembled and filled with more than 300 millimetres of water.
Exclusions from the new laws
Queensland's pool safety laws do not apply to portable pools or spas that:
- Cannot be filled with more than 300 millimetres of water
- Have a maximum volume of 2,000 litres
- Have no filtration system.
All three criteria above must be met to be excluded. Many models of portable pools sold at department stores and pool shops meet these criteria, but you should check before buying.
On-the-spot fines for inadequate fencing
The state government's pool fencing requirements allow Council to issue on-the-spot fines of $796 to those pools that do not have adequate fencing.
Also failure to comply with an enforcement notice may also result in a $2,277 Penalty Infringement Notice and/or prosecution.
If an existing approved pool fence has been demolished or removed, or is in substantial disrepair to the extent that it is impracticable to keep the fencing in good condition in accordance with the original approved standards, the pool owner must construct a new fence to comply with the current standard, and to obtain a certificate from a building certifier stating the fencing complies with the fencing standard.
Importantly, home owners should ensure that their arrangements with the pool building and the private building certifier ensure all necessary safety requirements are observed in the pool's construction.
The Queensland Government Department of Infrastructure and Planning has set up a pool safety website to inform residents about pool fencing laws.
Preventing your pool from becoming a health concern
If you are not going to use the swimming pool anymore but you do not want to permanently get rid of it or, you are not going to use it for a while, say during winter, you have two options:
1. Keep the filtration and chlorination devices running as normal, so that:
- The pool water will not go stagnant and encourage mosquito breeding
- Organic matter such as tree leaves that may have fallen into the pool does not have a chance to accumulate, decompose and cause a smell
- Algae will not grow, decompose and cause a smell.
2. Take one or more of the following measures:
- Keep the water in the pool covered or treated with kerosene, other suitable oil, or other suitable substance
- Keep the water stocked with mosquito-larvae-destroying fish
- Completely draw off or empty all water from the pool and allow the interior to dry, or thoroughly scrub all parts of the interior of the pool after emptying, at least once in every seven days.*
* In time, a drawn-off pool may crack or even collapse. Please consult a pool construction/maintenance consultant for advice.