04.What to look for
Pool fence essentials
- Standard certification The fence should be certified as meeting Australian Standard AS 1926.1; look for labels such as the red and white “5Ticks” mark, or ask the supplier for a statement of compliance. Our testing suggests this isn’t always a guarantee that individual fence panels will pass the standard tests, but is still worth looking for.
- Design and material No one design or material is necessarily safer than another. However, our results indicate loop-top or similar style fences might be worth considering over flat-top designs– see Types of pool fence.
- Installation Check that the installer is familiar with local pool fence regulations. If you’re installing it yourself, contact your local council and state government to get a copy of all applicable laws. Guides for pool fence installation are available. When the fence is complete, get the local council or authority to inspect it and give you a certificate of compliance.
When we bought the pool fences, one manufacturer inadvertently supplied us with garden fencing instead, despite us clearly asking for pool fencing. Their garden fencing looks identical to their pool fencing but is made from a slightly thinner and weaker grade of aluminium.
Unsurprisingly, some of the garden fence panels failed our test and it was only when discussing this with the manufacturer that their mistake was discovered. We then obtained the correct fence and it passed our test. When ordering your fence, specify clearly that you want pool fencing, and check that your invoice or receipt states clearly that the product is pool fencing.
- Supervise toddlers and youngsters at all times when they’re in or around a pool. Supervision should always be by a competent adult, not an older child. Stay alert; lack of supervision is a key factor in many toddler drownings.
- Keep your pool fence and gate in good repair and make sure the gate latches automatically when shut. A significant number of drownings occur in pools that have no fence, or an inadequate or poorly maintained one.
- Don’t prop or tie the gate open, even for a short time.
- Don’t leave any objects near the fence that a child could use as a climbing aid.
- Three-sided pool fencing (with direct access from the house to the pool area) is permitted for many older pools, but four-sided fencing is safer, as it completely separates the pool area from the house. At the least, make sure any doors or windows opening onto the pool area are secure and lockable, and preferably self-closing.
- At least one household member should know how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in case of accidents. Display a guide to CPR near the pool (this is mandatory in many areas).
- Familiarise your children with water and teach them to swim as early as possible, but bear in mind this isn’t a substitute for supervision and good fencing; youngsters who can swim may still get into difficulties and drown.