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 'set their backyard pool defence' 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's National Drowning Report show that in 2017/18, 18 Australian children aged 0-4 years drowned. The majority of these incidents (67%) occurred in swimming pools.
Jason Chambers, General Manager of Kidsafe Victoria said, "Despite significant reductions in toddler drowning deaths over time, drowning continues to be one of the leading causes of accidental death for Australian children under 5 years of age."
While safety barriers can be effective in reducing the risk of backyard pool drowning incidents, evidence suggests that a large number of drowning deaths are the result of barriers that are faulty, or non-compliant with Australian standards.
CEO of the Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Victoria, Chris Samartzis, highlighted the importance of pool and spa owners conducting regular checks of their barriers, saying "Pool and spa barriers are exposed to the extremes of weather all year round which can lead to rust, loose or missing bolts or screws and wear and tear over time. It's critical that pool and spa owners regularly check and maintain their barriers to ensure they are safe and fully compliant."
While pool and spa barriers play an important role in reducing the risk of childhood drowning, Kidsafe is reminding the public that their home pool defence should also include a number of other actions.
"Children drown quickly and silently. Together with a compliant pool barrier that is regularly checked and maintained, your home pool defence should also include active adult supervision of children in and around water, water awareness and first aid knowledge to keep your family safe this season," said Mr Chambers.
Kidsafe Victoria’s 'Safe Barriers Save Lives' campaign is proudly supported by SPASA Victoria, Safetech Hardware Australia, Protector Aluminium and the Victorian Pool Check and Compliance Agency. To find out more about the campaign and to access resources including Life Saving Victoria's home pool safety checklist, please visit www.kidsafevic.com.au
Kidsafe Victoria's summer pool safety tips:
- Children need to be actively supervised by an adult in and around water at all times. For toddlers, this means having an adult within arms' reach.
- Appoint designated supervisors at BBQ's and pool parties whose role it is to supervise the kids in and around the pool. This role can be shared throughout the day so that everyone gets a chance to enjoy the festivities.
- Ensure that your pool 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 signs are a good reminder to be kept near pools.
- Toddlers can drown in as little as a few centimetres of water, so be mindful of other potential outdoor water hazards including eskys with melted ice, wading/inflatable pools and ponds.
Common non-compliance issues with pool barriers:
- Gates and doors that don't self-latch or self-close
- Climbable objects near the barrier e.g. pot plants, chairs, pool pumps near the pool barrier which could allow a child to climb over the fence
- Excess space under the barrier, and;
- Misuse (e.g. propping the pool gate open)
Water Safety Week runs from 3rd - 10th December 2018.