Along with watching cricket or hitting the beach, taking a dip in a backyard pool is one of the great pleasures of an Australian summer.
However, over the last 25 years, 965 children under the age of five have drowned in Australia, according to the Royal Life Saving Society. Unfortunately, swimming pools are the leading location for child drownings, and primarily after a lapse in supervision or a child has found a way through a faulty or open gate.
Supervision is the most important preventive tactic when it comes to children and pools. Most experts advise that supervision always requires parents or guardians to watch children and keep them within arm’s length. Active supervision doesn't mean glancing up occasionally from a book or iPad.
Other tips for reducing the risk of your young child drowning in a backyard pool include checking the fencing around your pool. By law, if any pool or spa has a depth of more than 30 cm, then a fence is required. Moreover, the fencing must be maintained as long as there is a spa or pool in in your backyard. At the same time, the fence must comply with the Australian Standard AS1926 and your local council can provide information on how to comply with the standards and the laws. As part of your security check, ensure the safety latch on the gate is in good working order.
At the same time, don’t give your child a leg up. Be sure to clear toys and equipment away that young children could use to climb over the fence. At the end of a pool session, pack the toys and gear away. Also, don’t leave toys floating in the pool, which might tempt a child to take an unsupervised dip.
For those with wading pools, empty them immediately after use. Finally, if you’re visiting a house with a pool, there’s no harm in asking the owner if he or she has conducted these simple checks recently. It's better to be safe than sorry this Christmas.