When you think of summer, images of lazing by the backyard pool on hot and humid evenings with the smell of steaks sizzling on the barbie comes to mind. As much as summer calls for plenty of sun, fun and socialising around the pool, there is one issue that cannot go ignored.
Child drownings in backyard swimming pools. Not to be a downer, but pool safety and baby proofing your pool is everybody’s business. Before even thinking about who you’re inviting over for a sausage sanga and a swim, put pool security at the top of your priority list. You never know, it could just save a child’s life.
Every year, we see story after story make new headlines about a young child who has drowned in a pool. A mother of twins in Newcastle recounts an incident in 2007, whereby her two-year old boys had a near miss and required resuscitation due to lack of pool security. The boys had managed to sneak into the pool area because of a faulty gate latch. “There had been no gate noise, no splashing, no screaming, just silence,” Belinda Hedley says. Luckily, the boys survived, but sadly, not every parent can say the same thing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, drowning rates are highest among young children with most drownings occurring in home swimming pools. The Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2017 reveals that drowning in children under five has increased. According to the report, 29 children aged 0-4 years drowned in 2016/17, a 32% increase on the previous year.
Check out this 15-second video on the importance of pool fence safety:
Now that we know the facts, how do you baby proof your pool and keep your little ones safe to prevent any risk of drowning?
Richard Berry, Managing Director of AquaSafe Pool Nets offers some sound advice for parents who own a backyard swimming pool. “My vision is to help reduce the number of unsupervised backyard pool drownings in Australia from 15 per year to zero in children under five,” states Richard. “This high rate of childhood drownings is preventable. By taking some fundamental proactive actions, parents can greatly reduce the risk of their child drowning in a backyard swimming pool.”
Here are some simple recommendations to get your pool safe and summer-ready:
1. Ensure your fence is working properly by conducting regular pool fence inspections. A faulty fence lock or broken fencing means access to the pool could happen in seconds.
2. Start swimming lessons as early as possible so your little ones can learn how to remove themselves from the pool should they accidentally fall in. Poolwerx has an initiative called Learn2Swim Week from 2-9 October 2018, which offers free swimming lessons for kids under five.
3. Install a pool safety net for that second ‘layer’ of safety should your child get into the pool area during those vulnerable years. This additional barrier could save the life of someone you love!
4. If there are small children in the pool area, be on watch at all times and remove all distractions such as books and devices.
Together, with ongoing education, a check-list for adequate pool safety including adequate barriers and teaching your kids how to swim from an early age we can stamp out pool-related deaths!