January 24, 2019
Australia Day Party Toddler Drowning Alert Parents Urged to Check Pool Barriers and Gates

67% of toddler drowning incidents in 2017/2018 occurred in swimming pools.

Kidsafe Victoria today said with thousands of traditional BBQ’s and pool parties held across the Australia Day long weekend it is vital all pool owners check their Pool Barriers and Gates are in good working condition and ensure the pool or spa is supervised by an adult when in use.  

Jason Chambers, General Manager of Kidsafe Victoria said, “Research has shown that adult supervision is the first line of defence in reducing toddler drowning incidents, with pool and spa barriers and gates providing crucial support.”

“Children drown quickly and silently, which is why it’s important that they are actively supervised in and around water – for toddlers, this means having an adult within arm’s reach at all times.”

“When there are lots of adults around at a backyard BBQ or pool party, it can often seem like there is extra supervision for children. However, quite often in these situations everyone assumes that someone else is actively supervising the kids when in fact, nobody is,” Mr Chambers said.


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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.

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.”

Kidsafe Victoria’s ‘Safe Barriers Save Lives’ campaign is proudly supported by SPASA Victoria, Safetech Hardware Australia, Protector Aluminium and the Victorian Pool Check Compliance Agency. For further information on the campaign and to access resources including the Victorian Building Authority’s pool barrier checklists, 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)