With the weather warming up, the backyard swimming pool will once again be a place of entertainment and enjoyment this summer. However, skulking behind the fun lies the high risk of drowning, particularly for children.
Over the last 25 years, 965 children under the age of five have drowned in Australia, warns Royal Life Saving Australia. Swimming pools are the leading location for child drowning, primarily due to a lapse in supervision, faulty gates, and propped open gates.
The combination of diligent supervision and secure home pool fencing can reduce drownings to zero says Royal Life Saving. The requirement for safe pool fencing varies depending on when the pool was built and its location. However, putting a fence in place to prevent any fatalities is the best advice, even if you don’t have children living with you. Royal Life Saving also suggests checking all fence panels are in place and securely attached. Also, look for any gaps or holes in the fence that a little person could squeeze through. If there’s a space of more than 100 millimetres from the bottom of the fence and the ground, then reduce the gap.
Likewise, be sure to examine the quality and functionality of the gate that enables access to the backyard pool. The gate must be self-closing and it must shut as soon as it swings back into the closed position. At the same time, be sure not to prop the gate open for an extended period no matter what. It doesn’t take much for little ones to rush through an open gate and into the water. Also be sure to check for rusted, loose or missing screws warns Royal Life Saving.
Away from the fence and gate, be sure not to stack toys or other climbable objects such as chairs, ladders, pot plants or barbecues against the fence. Also trim back any shrubs or trees that children could use to climb over the fence.
Royal Life Saving also always advises pool owners and family members to have current resuscitation and first aid skills – and always keep children aged under 5 within reach when they’re in a pool.