Public has say on proposed pool fencing changes

Water safety leaders are calling on New Zealand’s public to take an active interest in the proposed repeal of the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987, amidst fears that if the changes go ahead more pre-schoolers will drown.

Water Safety New Zealand CEO Matt Claridge says his organisation, along with the wider sector, is hugely concerned about the negative impact the proposed Bill would have on the pre-school drowning toll.

“We know that the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 has greatly reduced the number of pre-schoolers drowning with the number of under fives drowning in home pools in the past ten years down around 45% on the previous decade. Rather than a repeal of the act we want to see a number of improvements made in order to further strengthen the existing law.”

“Pre-schoolers drown quickly – in less than a minute – and silently. Their deaths are also entirely preventable by active supervision. We need to be doing absolutely everything we can to ensure no children under the age of five drown in this country – not increasing the risk to our most vulnerable by removing a law that is already proven to have saved lives.”

Matt Claridge says Water Safety New Zealand strongly disagrees with a number of elements of the proposed bill – in particular the move towards voluntary compliance, less inspections and the removal of the requirement to fence spas or hot tubs – and is lobbying instead for tighter requirements, especially four sided isolation fencing for any new home and pool builds where doors can open directly on to a pool area.

“We’ve had a range of water safety experts looking at this in detail, we’re not happy with what’s being proposed and we don’t think the public would be happy to see changes that will greatly reduce water safety around the home resulting in more preschool children drowning.”

“We’re urging Government to listen to the experts and will be putting forward a compelling submission to the select committee, challenging the proposed changes. We’d like all New Zealanders to do the same and contribute their own submission.”

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