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Don’t duck out. Make your portable pool safe.

A portable pool comes with certain responsibilities – and potential legal obligations – for parents and carers. So don’t duck out. Make your portable pool safe for children.

3cm of Water & 20 Seconds

Did you know young children can drown in only 3cm of water, silently within just 20 seconds? That on average one young child dies from drowning in a portable pool in Australia every year? Or that the risk of drowning in any unfenced home pool is higher than one which is fenced? Or that you could be fined or prosecuted if you don’t safeguard your portable pool correctly?

The statistics

  • 18 children 0-4 years drowned in Australia in 2017/18.
  • 12 (or 67%) drowned in a swimming pool.
  • Accidental falls into water were the leading activity prior to drowning among children under five, with 14 drowning deaths or 78% of all drowning deaths.
Source: Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2018

As portable pools (also known as a wading, paddling, inflatable and kiddie pools) become cheaper and more popular, the drowning risk for young children grows. So, don't duck out of your responsibilities and any legal obligations.

What do you need to do?

Make it safe

  • Supervise. Within arm’s reach.
  • Act. Learn CPR and be emergency-ready.
  • Fence. Pools deeper than 30cm.
  • Empty. And store safely
Dippy the Duck

Do the right thing.
Don't duck out.

Do

  1. Do think twice about buying a portable pool. Consider a public pool instead – it’s cheaper than a fine for having an unfenced portable pool.
  2. Do stay switched-on. Always supervise within arm's reach. Drowning deaths and brain damage can occur in seconds.
  3. Do check local fencing requirements. In most states and territories, bodies of water over 30cm in depth must be fenced by law.
  4. Do CPR first. If the worst happens, get your child out of the water and perform CPR, while someone else calls Triple Zero (000). Every second counts.
  5. Do tag-team another adult. If you have to leave the pool, hand over responsibility to another adult before you leave.

Don't

  1. Don't leave children unsupervised. Ever. If you fill the pool, the responsibility is on you.
  2. Don't duck out when supervising. Don't get distracted by a phone call, text messages, social media or household chores.
  3. Don't rely on kids to supervise. It isn't a good idea - or fair - to put the responsibility on children.
  4. Don't forget to empty and store your pool. Empty it after every use and store it away where it can't be inadvertently filled by rainwater or reticulation.
  5. Don’t be surprised if the council calls. Local authorities are ramping up checks on portable pools including using aerial photography to check for unfenced bodies of water in backyards.

Avoid a fine or prosecution

Is the water in your pool 30cm or deeper? Then it's likely that you're legally obliged to erect a fence or safety barrier around your pool. Check with your local council or goverment agency.

If you don't ensure your portable pool meets your local authority's requirements, you could be subject to a fine or prosecution. And with councils and goverment agencies increasing checks on pools, including using drones to survey backyards for bodies of water, it's increasingly likely you'll get caught.

Portable Pool Factsheet

Real life Stories

"I love you really bad Mum"

Photo of Phillipa

Phillipa Wirangi’s world was turned upside down in 2015. "They’d set up one of those wading pools for summer and I don’t think they knew portable pools needed to be fenced. From what I’ve been told Eli was outside, the person watching him was on the phone inside, and he must’ve pulled a plastic chair to the edge of the pool. Next thing he was found floating in the water."

Read story

"Daddy, Mia is sleeping in the pool"

Photo of Natasha

Natasha Hadley is still haunted by the day her daughter Mia nearly drowned in 30 centimetres of water. The children’s father, Glen was sitting by the portable pool while his two kids were playing. Glen was momentarily distracted on the phone when Patrick (who was four at the time) came up to him and said “Daddy, Mia is sleeping in the pool.”

Read story

More information

Check out these resources for more information about pool safety and legislation.

In 2014/15 Royal Life Saving developed a range of fact sheets / translated resources for the Make it Safe campaign translated in...

Royal Life Saving Society - Australia and Commonwealth, State and Territory consumer affairs agencies have collaborated on the 'Make It Safe' campaign to educate people on the risks of owning a portable pool and encouraging five simple safety steps to reduce the risk.

Information for media

Media statement

Video from drowning prevention advocate Melanie Mitchell

Graphic Resources

These resources are available for your use if you’d like to support the Don’t Duck Out, Make It SAFE campaign. Don’t forget to use the hashtags #DontDuckOut and #MakeItSafe if you’re posting on social media.

Audio Resources