These are the new safety standards for private swimming pools – and a fence is no longer good enough
- The Standards Bureau is in the final stages of updating rules for private swimming pools, because kids are still drowning.
- The latest standard says that a fence around a swimming pool is not enough; every pool should also have a safety net or cover.
- That net must be child-proof, professionally installed, and must carry the weight of an adult safely.
Every private swimming pool that can hold more than 30cm of water should be surrounded not only by a kid-proof fence, but should also be fitted with a safety net or a safety cover to prevent children drowning, according to a draft update from the SA Bureau of Standards (SABS).
Such a net or cover cannot be DIY installed but must be fitted by an "accredited responsible party", according to the standard.
A cover is disqualified if it allows rainwater to pool for more than five minutes, or if a child can unfasten it. It must require keys, a combination lock or "special tools, devices, or inaccessible locations" to remove.
For larger swimming pools a net or cover must have a carrying weight of at least 220k to "permit a rescue" operation while holding up one child and two adults. For smaller pools, less than 2.4m at its widest point, the weight requirement is 125kg, for one adult and child.
The requirements form part of SANS 10134, a SABS standard last updated in 2008.
Other changes include a requirement for self-closing gates in fences or walls around swimming pools, and a new obligation on renters or other non-owners to keep completely empty any unsafe pools.
It is the responsibility of the owner of a pool to ensure it has both a fence or wall and a net or cover, the standard holds – but any occupier of a property "shall not allow water in an unprotected swimming pool".
Occupiers are also responsible for ensuring that some sort of pole, be it a brush or a leaf scoop, is available near any pool "to assist a distressed person in the water", and to regularly inspect a pool enclosure for damage.
The standard requires walls or fences to be at least 1.2m tall, to be sunk into the ground at least 50cm deep, to be very hard for children to climb, and with gates difficult for children to open.
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