|Supervision and teaching children how to swim
“One of the major ways to prevent an accident is to teach your children to swim,” Chris advises. “The biggest danger pools pose is a drowning hazard to very young children, particularly those under five.
Familiarize your children with water as soon as you can. By the age of five, children should at least know how to float and do basic dog paddle to be able to get themselves out if they happen to fall in.”
Chris adds that even if children are competent in the water, adult supervision is crucial, as it only takes seconds for a child to drown. “Someone must be in the pool area at all times when kids are swimming, particularly for kids that aren’t your own,” he says. “It’s advisable to have a designated ‘lifesaver’ to keep a close watch on them.
“Beware of distractions such as the doorbell, telephone or a neighbour whilst supervising children in or around the pool. For children under the age of five, it is recommended to remain within an arm’s reach for any mishaps that may occur,” Chris explains.
Fencing and gates
The easiest way to reduce the chance of a drowning incident is to make sure your fencing is up to standard. And there’s no time like the present to check everything is in order.
“Make sure fencing meets the prescribed height and latching requirements, and remove any objects outside the fence that can assist a child to climb over it,” says Chris.
“Fencing must separate the pool area from the neighbourhood and the residence, and must be a minimum of 1.2m high when measured from the outside, and any boundary fences that make up the pool fence must be at least 1.8m high. Pool gates must open outwards, be self-closing and self-latching. Also, you should never prop open a pool gate, because if you forget about it the results could be disastrous.”
For those in NSW, Victoria and Queensland, new legislation states that all pools must be registered and certified as safe. Pool owners need to refer to the legislative requirements of their state; it is the owner’s responsibility to make sure that their pool complies with the Act. Non-compliance with the regulations risks lives, and pool owners could incur fines.
“Children are naturally inquisitive and have a fascination for water. Nothing replaces close supervision by a responsible adult, but having complying fences and gates around pools and spas goes a long way to reducing the very real danger of children wandering into water they can’t handle,” says Chris.
In case of emergency, knowing CPR can save someone’s life. “By law, every backyard pool must have an up-to-date CPR chart,” says Chris. “I would also recommend that family members be educated in basic first aid and CPR.”
Keep chemicals secure
Pool chemicals are another safety risk to young children, and should be kept locked away securely.
With spas, the main danger is the possibility of trapping hair or a body part in the suction outlets.
The risk can be reduced with these simple tips:
- Make sure all outlets are working properly and aren’t damaged in any way
- Don’t let anyone put their head underwater, as this increases the risk of entrapment
- Those with long hair should be extra careful and should tie their hair up
- Know where the emergency cut off switch is