In the past decade, more than half of all children aged 5 and under who drowned in Australia lost their lives in a backyard swimming pool. It’s a tragedy.
Bringing your child to swimming lessons is the first step in helping them be safer, but what can we do at home to make sure our backyards are as safe as possible?
Even before we discuss that, one thing to remember is that every second counts. If a child is missing, check the pool, spa or pond first.
So often toddlers exploring find their way into a pool when they should have had no chance to do so. Be it a fence in disrepair, a gate propped open, or climbing on foliage or using a chair. Things can happen so quickly with devastating results.
What to do at home to fight drowning statistics
As pool owners it’s our job to ensure that all legal guidelines are met so that you can keep children safe! The relevant act is The Swimming Pools Act 1992. You will find specifics that apply in your situation here
In general lets take a look at the basic requirements:
- Any pool even if portable and inflatable that has a depth of 30cm or more must be surrounded by a pool fence.
- Fences need to be 1.2m high (measured from the outside of the fence) with the bottom gap no larger than 100mm
- If a boundary fence forms any part of the pool barrier. It must be at least 1800mm high measured from inside the pool area.
- The gap between all vertical rails must be no larger than 100mm
- There must be no potential hand holds or foot holds within 900mm in any direction.
- There must be 300mm clearance from the barrier inside the pool area
- Your pool fence must be in good state of repair with no holes are broken rails or palings
- Pool gate must swing outwards, be self closing and latch by itself from any position
- Once closed the gate should not be able to be pulled open
- The gate latch must be 1500mm above ground level
- It is against the law to prop the gate open
- If a wall forms part of the barrier. No window can open more than 100mm or they must be covered by bars or a metal screen
- The height of the sill from the lowest opening panel of a window must be at least 1800mm from the floor
- Non-climbable zone, anything within 90cm of the fence must be taken down or removed such as trees, chairs, BBQ’s rocks por shrubs (anything a child could use to climb).
Get the right signage
Every pool must have a sign that includes details of resuscitation (CPR) which can be read from 3 meters. Learning CPR could save a life.
Yes a pool fence and signage are crucial steps in creating a safer pool environment at home but let’s also not forget adult supervision.
If children are playing in and around the pool then you need to be alert and watching at all times.
- 100% undivided attention; supervision is not an activity that can be done whilst doing something else!
- Being prepared to get wet! The 0-5 year age bracket requires you to keep watch at a close distance (i.e. within arm’s length). So get in with them! This enables parents to spend quality time with their kids, splashing about and having FUN
- Ignoring distractions; never allow phones, doorbells, socialising or other siblings/children let your attention waiver.
- Never leave a child in charge of supervising; Children are not suitable replacements for Adults – they are easily distracted and do not have the appropriate skills to deal with the situation
- When at BBQ’s & social events; delegate a Supervisor role to several available adults. Ensure they are aware of their duties and responsibilities and communicate effectively
- Remember… of the 60% of backyard pool drownings, 85% were a result of children falling in while playing around the pool area. This means that supervision extends not only to periods of swimming, but also to when children are out of the water too.
Children are our number one priority and with summer around the corner we need to ensure that we are doing everything we can to encourage a safer water environment.
What is above are some basic tips. For more information on the legal requirements for your backyard swimming pool or pond click here