For the first time since 2010, swimming pools have overtaken beaches as the location with the second highest number of drowning deaths.
With thousands of BBQ’s and pool parties expected to be held across Victoria this summer, Kidsafe Victoria have called on all pool owners to help ‘Close the Gate on Backyard Pool Drowning’ this Water Safety Week, in a bid to reduce the number of toddler drowning deaths.
The warning comes as recent figures from the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia show that 70% of toddler drowning incidents in 2013/14 occurred in backyard swimming pools.
Kidsafe Victoria Project Manager, Jason Chambers, highlighted the importance of regularly checking and maintaining pool barriers to ensure that they are in proper working order.
“All pool and spa fencing will experience exposure to extremes of weather and wear and tear over time including rust, missing bolts or screws and damage. Therefore it is important that it is regularly checked and maintained”, said Mr Chambers.
The VBA’s Director of Technical and Regulation, Jarrod Edwards, noted that aside from safety concerns, there were also financial penalties for not having a compliant pool/spa safety barrier.
"Any pool or spa owner who doesn’t comply with swimming pool fencing regulations is putting their family and friends at risk. They also risk fines of more than $7300", said Mr Edwards.
Kidsafe Victoria’s ‘Closing the Gate on Backyard Pool Drowning’ campaign calls for all pool and spa owners to visit www.kidsafevic.com.au/water-safety/pool-fence-safety and utilise the online home pool safety assessment tool, developed by Life Saving Victoria, to check the safety of their pool areas. This includes common pool barrier faults/non-compliance issues such as:
- Gates that don't self-latch or self-close.
- Climbable objects in the 'non climbable' zone outlined in the Australian Standards (e.g. pot plants, chairs, pool pumps near the pool fencing which could allow a child to climb over the fence).
- Excess space under the fence, and;
- Misuse (e.g. propping the pool gate open).
Mr Chambers noted that along with checking and maintaining pool barriers, active adult supervision of children around water played a vital role in preventing drowning incidents.
“Toddlers can drown quickly and silently, which is why they should always be kept within arm’s reach around water”, said Mr Chambers.
Kidsafe Victoria's summer pool safety tips:
- Never take your eyes off children around water; if you have to leave the water area for any reason, take the children with you.
- Appoint an adult as a designated supervisor, including at BBQ’s and pool parties. Never leave toddlers in the care of older children.
- When you are supervising toddlers, ensure that you are within arms' reach at all times.
- Ensure that your pool safety barrier is secure and in proper working order.
- Never prop the pool gate open, this allows children easy and often unsupervised access to the pool area.
- Learn CPR and update your skills regularly. Resuscitation posters are a good reminder to be kept near pools.
Water Safety Week runs from 29th November – 6th December.