Does my pool need fencing?

We often hear people ask ‘Does my pool need fencing?’ when they are considering investing in this amenity. With regulations changing it’s easy to get confused as to whether your pool requires fencing or not.

Backyard swimming pools can be great additions to any home, where families and friends can get together and splash about, keeping everyone active in the warmer months.

However, even if you aren’t using one, the danger of swimming pool accidents is constant. This is why safety is a key consideration when building a new pool or renovating an existing one. In this article, we answer your question “does my pool need fencing” and some expert advice when it comes to incorporating a fence into your swimming pool design.

To avoid drowning and potential tragedies, it is imperative and a legal requirement to have a pool fence installed. A pool fence is a structural obstacle encircling a pool, limiting access to adults. The main objective is to keep children from entering the pool unsupervised, therefore helping to prevent pool tragedies.

Pool owners must also register their pool or spa with their local government body or council registrar. Owners who fail to do this can be liable for on-the-spot fines or court penalties.

Having your own peace of mind is also a huge factor. So, yes, is the answer to your question ‘does my pool need fencing’.

Why Pool Safety Is Critical

Between July 1st, 2002 and June 30th, 2015, 83 private swimming pool drowning deaths of children under five in NSW were recorded by Royal Life Saving Australia. The key findings related to appropriate supervision, pool fencing and emergency care.

Therefore, owners must prioritise pool safety and comply with regulations, as well as being educated on pool safety best practice.

All home pool fences should:

  • Not have gaps that are wide enough for a toddler to fit through.
  • Not have any climbing footholds.
  • Be at least 1.2m high, with no more than 100mm ground clearance.
  • Be strong and rigid enough that a child can’t force a gap in the bars or mesh.
  • Have materials and welds strong enough to withstand a heavy knock.

Whose Responsibility is it to Ensure Safety Compliance?

While local governments and councils provide the legislative frameworks to ensure a high fencing standard, the responsibility ultimately lies with pool owners to comply with this.

For example, in NSW and Victoria, all swimming pools and spas on residential properties in with a depth greater than 30cm must be surrounded by a safety barrier (e.g. a pool fence). Pool owners should also ensure that compliant barriers are always in place and keep pool gates closed to ensure that children cannot access the pool unattended. They also need to make sure fencing meets the required measurements. This will prevent young children from being able to squeeze under or between gaps, or being able to climb over it.

Does My Pool Need Fencing Eco Outdoor
Pool fencing 101 from Eco Outdoor

Pool & Spa Fencing Requirements

If your spa pool does not have a fence around it, you must either install one, or cover and secure the spa with a lockable child-safe structure such as a door, lid, grille or mesh when it is not in use. Fencing also applies to portable pools.

Maintenance of Pool Fencing

It is also vital that pool owners maintain barriers and fix damaged ones immediately.

Barriers can fail when gates are left open, fences and gates aren’t maintained and climbable objects are left against the fence.

All fence bolts, screws and fasteners should be tight and in good order, with any loose fixtures being tightened or replaced immediately.

For more advice about pools, explore the pool section of our Learning Library.

Interview Transcript:

Dean Herald of Rolling Stone Landscapes: When designing a swimming pool, I think designing the fence is almost just as critical. Pool fence regulations have tightened up dramatically over the years, and I’m sure they’re only going to tighten up even more.

Matt Leacy of Landart Landscapes: I like to start with the pool fence. Look at where that’s going to go and how it’s going to affect the flow from the inside of your house. Then you can design your pool location around that.

Dean: Design the fence in the right location to make access easy. You’re not opening and closing too many gates. A fence should work with the pool, not work against it. So, understand where that needs to go. Get it designed correctly, and make it work with the holistic vision of the landscape.

Matt: It doesn’t have to be the one material wrapping the pool. You can break it up and use different materials in different areas. Or break it up with planting and that way you get it to disappear.