Editorial: Safety takes priority

By Dylan Thorne

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Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Matt Claridge
Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Matt Claridge

Water Safety New Zealand is concerned swimming pool owners in the Western Bay are failing fencing compliance standards because the owners are more concerned with the look of their properties.

The Bay of Plenty Times Weekend reported councils were finding it difficult to get pool owners to comply with fencing regulations because they thought the regulation fences did not fit in with their landscaped properties.

In the past some have claimed the regulations are over the top. They argue life is never going to be entirely without risk for children and that it's the responsibility of their parents and the community to minimise that risk reasonably, but not to the exclusion of the reasonable rights of others. However, the fact is fencing rules are in place to save children from drowning - and they work.

The Fencing of Swimming Pools Act is clear - all private outdoor pools must be fenced unless the walls of the pool are more than 1.2m above the ground.

Aesthetic issues, such as whether the fences and gates required did not suit an open-plan style, should not take priority over safety concerns.

If standards were relaxed to account for aesthetic tastes then the risk of drowning would increase. It's a high price to pay for a good-looking pool area.

Perhaps Water Safety New Zealand chief executive Matt Claridge put it best when he likened it to wearing a seatbelt and added you did not hear people complaining of looking silly when wearing one.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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