New swimming pool alarm rules

New regulations for alarms in private swimming pools because current laws are not being adequately obeyed or enforced

NEW regulations have been introduced for alarms in private swimming pools because current laws are not being adequately obeyed or enforced.

Since 2003, owners of submerged pools have been required to provide a system of security to prevent the risk of children drowning.

Four different forms of security are permitted - an alarm, fencing, pool cover, or a shelter.

Most pool owners opt for an immersed alarm system that is capable of detecting the fall of a child into the pool.

The new regulations follow a parliamentary report on pool security systems in June that was critical of existing enforcement procedures.

The MPs estimated that around half of pools still lacked a security system, and that drownings in private pools continued to be unacceptably high.

In 2006, 55 people died from drowning in a private pool, of whom 21 were children under six years old. No systematic survey has been undertaken since then.

The pool report authors considered that, even where a system of security was installed, owners were not always installing or using the alarms in the proper manner.

Many owners switched off the alarms to avoid the risk of them going off during a storm or windy weather.

The report stated that the current regulations are not easily accessible by the public, as they are written in a language only professionals were likely to fully understand.

They are also only available on a government agency web site where pre-payment is required to obtain access.

The response of the government has been to toughen up the technical regulations on the alarms and to make them freely available in the public domain. The regulations state that:

- The alarm must operate 24/7;
- Be capable of detecting the fall of a child of 6 kilos;
- Be child tamper proof;
- Be immune to atmospheric conditions;
- Include a signalling system that clearly shows that it is operating satisfactorily.

No-one will be obliged to change their existing alarm, provided it complies with the previous regulations and manufacturers have six months to make any necessary changes.

However the government has made no plans to increase enforcement procedures on individual pool owners, which was a central concern of the original report.