Looser Regulations Making Swimming Pools Safer?

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Many parents’ hearts begin to race when their children learn to swim for the first time, and most of those parents will have their eyes glued on their kids every second possible.

However, according to the New Zealand Herald, the country recently proposed the weakening of swimming pool fencing laws.

This bill would eliminate the need for pool fencing for new pools. Instead, they would be required to have “physical barriers that restrict access to the pool by unsupervised children under 5.”

This legislation would replace the 1987 Fencing of Swimming Pools Act and is expected to reduce compliance costs by up to $17 million annually, as well as prevent six drownings every 10 years by requiring inspections every five years.

Specialists from Starship Children’s Hospital have since spoken out against the bill, calling it a “reckless” experiment that will lead to increased toddler drownings and permanent brain injuries.

“This bill removes the current mandatory requirement for pools to be fenced, replacing this with potentially multiple, duplicated and untested measures permitted within acceptable solutions, alternative solutions, determinations and waivers,” said Dr. Mike Shepherd, a Starship emergency department specialist.

The hospital believes that the previous act was already beneficial in reducing these problems.

“We estimate that since its introduction, at least 200 New Zealand toddlers’ lives have been saved and at least as many children have avoided permanent severe brain injury,” continued Shepherd.

Rather than watering down the laws, Shepherd believes the safety precautions should be strengthened by requiring four-sided isolation fences.

It would seem that New Zealand is not alone in its attempt to loosen safety regulations surrounding pools, as Online Athens reports that legislation meant to do just this recently passed a divided U.S. House of Representatives.

House Bill 219 would exempt pools owned by apartment complexes, condo associations, country clubs, or timeshares from both oversight, and regulations put in place by local health departments.

This proposition is aimed at saving the owners money and hassle because their pools are not technically public.

However, many public officials opposed the bill.

“Inspections serve to ensure that water quality is safe and that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect swimmers from unnecessary injuries,” stated the group, Voices for Georgia’s Children. “For children, poor water quality can lead to illnesses and unsafe swimming areas can lead to drownings and injuries.”

The bill passed with votes of 152 to 8.

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