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Spas & pools

Outdoor spa and an outdoor swimming pool
Drownings and disembowelments have occured when children have become trapped on unsafe spa and pool skimmer boxes, filters, outlets and covers.

Open, potty shaped skimmer boxes, unsafe filter covers and unsafe outlets can cause serious injuries and death. The ACCC has developed new national regulation to minimise risks associated with this type of skimmer box in portable pools and spas.

Skimmer boxes

Open, potty shaped skimmer boxes can be integrally moulded into transportable swimming pools and spas. These skimmer boxes:

  • operate at water level as a suction point for circulating the water
  • look like a child's potty or toilet device
  • have no fixed protective device to stop a person becoming lodged or caught by the suction when in use.

There have been cases in Australia where children sitting on an open skimmer boxes have been disembowelled by the strong suction action.


Unsafe covers intended for or adapted for use on filter outlets or suction points in swimming pools or spas can come off and create the risk of trapping hair or parts of the body. This can drag a person under the water and cause drowning.

Filters and outlets

Unsafe swimming pool and spa outlets and filters can also trap a person's hair or parts of their body.

Steps to minimise risks

If you have a swimming pool or spa, check that it does not have:

  • an open potty shaped skimmer box that children or adults can sit on
  • outlets or filters that are open and may trap hair or body parts
  • covers that can easily come off and give access to filters or outlets that can trap hair or body parts or cause serious internal injuries.

If you have any of these products, you should immediately stop using the pool or spa and replace the skimmer box, outlets, filters or covers with models that comply with Australian or American voluntary standards.

Ask pool and spa suppliers for proof that any products they provide you with are designed to minimise the likelihood of entrapment of any part of a person's body or hair by the outlet when in use.



A permanent ban on pools and spas with unsafe design features was declared on 1 February 2011. This page includes information on hazards and how to comply with the ban.


Check for any recalls related to this page.


The Minister for Small Business, the Honourable Bruce Billson, has published a Safety Warning Notice about M Spa Inflatable Spas. There is a risk of electrocution to consumers due to a failure of insulation between a live part of the heating element and its metallic enclosure.

Injury case studies

Date commenced: 25th March 2006
The New South Wales Deputy Coroner found that suction from a blocked main drain outlet in the bottom of a spa caused the death of an 11 year old girl in 25 March, 2006.


  • 74 reports of circulation entrapments in the USA in 2007
  • 5-9 year old children were the most frequent victims of entrapment in the USA in 2007
  • 9 people died as a result of these entrapments:
    • 2 in public pools or spas
    • 7 in residential pools or spas
  • 63 people were injured as a result of these entrapments:
    • 20 in public pools or spas
    • 33 in residential pools or spas
    • 10 in unknown pools or spas.

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