An average of 600 children die from drowning in South Africa each year, with an overall average of 2 000 fatal drownings occurring including adults. This has contributed to the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) updating the rules for private swimming pools.
The latest standard stipulates that it is not enough to have a fence surround a privately-owned pool, and that each pool must also have the extra precaution of being covered by a safety net or cover.
New pool safety standards
– A safety net or cover cannot be DIY-installed, but must rather be fitted by an “accredited responsible party”.
– A private swimming pool that can hold more than 30 centimeters of water must not only be surrounded by a childproof fence.
– A cover is disqualified if it allows rainwater to pool for more than five minutes.
– A cover is also disqualified if a child is able to unlock it – it is required to make use of special tools, locks or devices to unlock it.
– A larger swimming pool requires a cover or net that can carry a weight of at least 220 kilograms, as this is typically the weight of an adult and two children and “permits a rescue”.
– If a pool is less than 2.4 meters at its widest point, the weight requirement for the cover or net is 125 kilograms.
– A self-closing gate must be installed around the pool in conjunction with a net or cover on the pool itself.
– A renter or other non-owner of a pool must also ensure that any unsafe pool is completely drained.
– Those who are responsible for a pool must always make sure to keep a pole or leaf scooper near the pool. This can be used to assist in saving someone who may be drowning.
– Any and all fences or wires set up around pools must be at least 1.2 meters high and be sunk at least 50 centimeters into the ground.
– It is also recommended that a life guard be present when any pool parties are hosted.