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Swimming Pool Safety
Kids can drown without a sound!
Cessnock Council is participating in the state-wide “Kids Can Drown Without a Sound” portable pool safety campaign undertaken by the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (SCHN) and NSW Government. The campaign was developed after experts were concerned by the number of children experiencing drowning and near drowning incidents in portable swimming pools.
Pools are an obvious risk but children can also drown in baths, dams, rivers, creeks, garden ponds and even nappy buckets. Once a young child’s face is underwater, the child is unable to pick themselves up as their head is heavier than their bodies. Most parents and carers believe they will be able to hear if their child is drowning. This, however, is not true as water in the airway can block any sound from being heard. Drowning is a very quick and quiet event.
Over a quarter of all drowning deaths among children in backyard swimming pools occur in inflatable or portable pools.
There are many more near drowning incidents that occur, some of which result in lifelong brain damage for the child.
Inflatable and portable pools are a popular option for a lot of families. But, there are dangers that all pool owners should be aware of.
Inflatable and portable pools are said to be more of a risk to children than pools that have been built with fences. This is because many people are not aware that these pools may need to have fences and some are not able to be emptied after use due to their size. Because of this, children have easy access to the water in the pool, placing them at a very high risk of drowning.
Supervision - There’s no substitute
There will be times when parents and carers are unable to actively supervise young children for every minute of the day. A large majority of children who drown in backyard swimming pools do so without the knowledge of the parent or carer.
Supervision of children around water is the best protection for children against drowning. However, it is easy for parents and carers to be distracted by everyday tasks such as hanging the washing on the line or answering the telephone. This is why pool fencing can be a very important second layer of protection to stop children gaining access to the water in the pool.
For tips on how to make sure your pool fence is safe and complies with the legislation, please refer to the Protect Your Pool, Protect Your Kids checklist, available on the Kids Health website. This checklist is available in a number of community languages
Learn CPR - It saves Lives
It is a requirement of the Swimming Pools Act and Regulation for warning signs to be located within the swimming pool enclosure. All warning signs must contain the words:
- YOUNG CHILDREN SHOULD BE SUPERVISED WHEN USING THIS SWIMMING POOL
- POOL GATES MUST BE KEPT CLOSED AT ALL TIMES
- KEEP ARTICLES, OBJECTS AND STRUCTURES AT LEAST 900 MILLIMETRES CLEAR OF THE POOL FENCE AT ALL TIMES
In addition, information demonstrating how to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) in a simple flow sequence must be included on the sign in clear legible detail from a distance of 3 metres.
A copy of the Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Guideline from the Australian Resuscitation Council can be found here
Fence your Pool – It’s the Law
You must, by law, have a four sided fence around ANY pool that can be filled with more than 300mm of water. This includes inflatable and portable swimming pools.
One of the main reasons for children drowning in pools is because of faulty pool fencing, which is against the law. Protect children by checking the swimming pool fence for faults, particularly in the months leading up to summer.
The maintenance of pool fencing is also very important even if you do not have young children living in your house. Research has shown that children are most at risk of drowning in a swimming pool within six months of moving into a new house with a pool or when visiting the home of a friend, family or neighbour with a pool.
The Swimming Pools Act 1992 requires the owner of premises on which a swimming pool is located to ensure that the pool is at all times surrounded by an approved child resistant barrier.
The following link provides information on the legal requirements of the Swimming Pools Act 1992
The Australian Standard AS1926.1 2007 for swimming pool fencing outlines the minimum fencing requirements for all swimming pools.
Inflatable pools need fences too!
Inflatable swimming pools are increasing in popularity due to their easy set-up, low cost and affordability, but there are significant dangers that all pool owners should be aware of.
By law, all inflatable or portable swimming pools that are capable of being filled with 300mm of water or more require a four-sided fence. Purchasing swimming pool fencing will increase the cost of owning a swimming pool, but it will significantly improve the safety of your children and reduce the risk of drowning.
The Children’s Hospital at Westmead is promoting the water safety message as part of its Pool Safety Campaign, Protect Your Pool, Protect Your Kids. The campaign provides resources for pool owners and parents to educate them about pool safety and ways of identifying any problems they may have.
Six simple tips on how to maintain your pool fence!
As a pool owner you are responsible for the ensuring the safety of children in your home and neighbourhood. Summer is the time when more people are enjoying their swimming pools and tragically this is when more drowning incidents occur.
The following tips are recommended to help you maintain your pool fence.
- Regularly check that the gate self closes and self-latches
- Regularly check and adjust the latching device as needed to ensure that they are operating correctly and have not been affected by the ground, fence or latch movement
- Regularly check fencing panels for correct gaps, rust and wear and tear
- Regularly check all fence bolts, screws and fasteners to make sure they are tight and in good order. Any loose bolts, screws and fasteners should be tightened or replaced
- Regularly replace springs and regularly spray self-closing gate hinges, locks and latches with lubricating oil or silicone to help prevent many of the faults relating to self-closing and self-latching gates
- Make sure trees, shrubs, BBQ, pot plants, toys, ladders, chairs and other objects are not within the 90cm non-climbable zone on the fence and are stored as far away from the fence as possible