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Close the Gate on Backyard Pool Drowning This Summer

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 Royal Life Saving Society of Australia's National Drowning report showed that over half of all toddler drowning incidents in 2014/15 occurred in backyard pools.

The Victorian Drowning Report 2014/15 released by Life Saving Victoria on Monday also revealed that for every drowning death of a child 0-4 years, there are a further 16 non-fatal drownings.

media release pool drowning

Left: Bree Furlong, Kidsafe Victoria with the Minister for Emergency Services,  the Hon. Jane Garrett, at the launch of Water Safety Week.

Kidsafe Victoria Acting CEO, 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."

"Evidence suggests that a large number of drowning deaths in pools are as a result of fencing that is faulty or non-compliant with Australian Standards", said Mr Chambers.

Kidsafe Victoria's 'Closing the Gate on Backyard Pool Drowning' campaign was launched in September by former Olympian and father of three, Matt Welsh. As part of the campaign, a video has been developed to guide pool and spa owners through some simple pool and spa barrier safety checks that they can perform at home themselves.

Screenshot of YouTube video for website

Click here to view the video

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 '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.

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 kept near pools are a good reminder.

Water Safety Week runs from 29th November - 6th December 2015. For more information on the Victorian Play it Safe by the Water committee please visit http://www.watersafety.vic.gov.au  

 

Kidsafe Releases Rental Backyard Pool Safety Check List

The danger with rental properties is that pool safety checks and maintenance can be overlooked as there are no permanent residents at the property.

Kidsafe Victoria has released an online information kit for estate agents, property managers and landlords to assist them in providing information and resources to tenants in response to anecdotal evidence suggesting families renting property could be at greater risk of experiencing a backyard pool drowning tragedy.

In 2014/15, over half of all toddler drowning incidents in Australia occurred in a backyard pool (14 incidents - 54%).

close the gate

Matt Welsh with his children Lola, Eve and Sam checking the safety latch on the pool gate at the launch of 'Closing the Gate on Backyard Pool Drowning'  at the Hawthorn Aquatic and Leisure Centre.

Robert Caulfield, Vice President of Kidsafe Victoria, said "Landlords have a legal requirement to install and maintain pool fences and gates that meet the relevant Australian Standards and tenants are required to ensure that the pool fence is maintained and operating correctly".

"The danger with rental properties is that this can be overlooked as there are no permanent residents at the property. The issue of urgency to repair and maintain pool fences or gates can also be overlooked through lack of communication about these issues", said Mr Caulfield.

If pool gates or fences are faulty or have become damaged, unsafe or insecure, Kidsafe Victoria recommends that tenants ensure their children cannot gain unsupervised access to the water area and immediately contact their landlord or agent for urgent repairs.

"All pool and spa barriers 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 they are regularly checked and maintained, especially in rental properties", said Mr Caulfield.

Kidsafe are encouraging all estate agents, property managers and landlords to visit http://www.kidsafevic.com.au/water-safety/pool-fence-safety/renting-or-leasing-a-property-with-a-pool today, download their free copy of the backyard pool and spa information kit and provide information and resources to their tenants.

Life Saving Online Kidsafe Resources for Pool Owners
The campaign calls for all pool and spa owners to visit
www.kidsafevic.com.au/water-safety/pool-fence-safetyand utilise the online resources, including the 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).

Olympic Champion Closes the Gate on Backyard Pool Drowning

Pool Owners Urged to take Action to Reduce Drowning Deaths

Matt Welsh, one of Australia's decorated swimming champions and a father of three young children, has urged the owners of over 1.2 million backyard swimming pools in Australia to 'Close the Gate on Backyard Pool Drowning' this summer. 

550Matt chn

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