Owning a pool is a great addition to your home, and while it’s a fun place to enjoy the summer months, it’s also a potential hazard around the home. Sadly, drowning is the most common cause of preventable death for children who are aged up to five years old, and in the past five years, 16 toddlers have drowned in Western Australia. This is a terrible statistic, and for every drowning death, it’s estimated that around ten children are taken to hospital following a near-drowning incident. The number of kids affected by near-drowning incidents in the past five years is 160.
In Western Australia, backyard swimming pools are the most common site for drowning and near-drowning incidents, with 94% of drowning occurrences happening in or around the home. Here are some of the ways in which pool safety can be increased to end these tragic incidents. There are currently specific laws in Western Australia which dictate that pool safety barriers must be installed around private swimming pools and spas to protect children.
Potential hazards for children include:
- Poor or no supervision
- Underestimating the ability of a child to gain access to a fenced-off area when a parent is absent
- Unrealistic expectations of a young child’s behavior and self control
- False sense of security when a caregiver or parent assumes that another is watching a child
- False belief that a retractable ladder or pool cover will protect a child
- The assumption that the presence of older children will keep kids safe
- Other children not realizing that a child is in danger, in fact thinking that the child in trouble is ‘just playing’
In order to make your pool as safe as possible, you need to adhere to the following:
Safe surrounding area for the pool
When you’re choosing the pavers or surrounding area for a new pool, you might want to look for the highest quality pavers that you can – but it’s important that they’re non-slip and safe for your pool when kids are running around playing games like Marco Polo. This will keep them safe and prevent possible accidents and issues.
A suitable barrier for your pool
According to the Australian legislation, every private pool and spa has to have a barrier that restricts young children from gaining access if the water in the pool is more than 300 mm deep. This is legislated by the Building Act 2011, Building Regulations 2012 and the Australian Standard AS 1926.
Supervision of kids in the pool
This means that you always have an adult with a pair of eyes on the pool. If kids are playing and the adults are partying and perhaps enjoying a glass of wine or two, it helps to have a sober sitter who can look out for the kids while enjoying themselves too.
Have everyone trained for administering CPR
People at your home should be trained to perform CPR if the need arises. This makes a safer place for your kids to swim while you are ready for any dire situation.
Educate your kids on safe pool use
You need to have some rules for your kids while swimming and using the pool, and to have strict guidelines for things that are and aren’t allowed. For example, if you’re not home, the kids can’t use the pool. It’s important to reward your kids for being responsible around the pool. This will foster a better sense of safety in your home.