Pool and spa safety tips
We’re almost half-way through spring and for those of us who own a pool or spa, now is the time to make sure they’re not only clean and healthy but also safe to use – especially for children and non-swimmers. Running a full safety check will not only help prevent a tragedy but will also leave you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your pool or spa is fully compliant.
Young children are inquisitive by nature and drawn to water like moths to a flame. If they haven’t had water awareness or swimming lessons, or are too little to understand safety rules, there is a chance they could fall in – and potentially drown or suffer from long-term health issues caused by prolonged immersion.
The most recent Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report (2016) uncovered two key findings:
- Swimming pools were the fourth most common location for drowning in Australia, with 45 drowning deaths recorded in the last year (2015/16)
- 21 children under five drowned in the last year, more than half of these (52%) occurred in swimming pools
With the latest drowning death of a six-year-old boy occurring only two days ago, the importance of pool and spa safety is as important now as it has ever been.
Designed for parents and carers of children under five, the Royal Life Saving’s Keep Watch program promotes four key actions when in and around pools and spas:
Supervise – Active supervision means focusing all of your attention on your children all of the time, when they are in, on or around the water. Stay within arms’ reach.
Restrict access – Placing a barrier around water, such as a correctly installed and regularly maintained pool fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate. Inflatable pools with a depth greater than 300mm also need to be fenced in accordance with state or territory legislation.
Water awareness – Familiarise your children with water by enrolling them in water awareness classes and spending time with them in the water. Set rules around water and discuss water safety with your child.
Resuscitate – A family member is the first on the scene in most emergency situations. In fact, many children are alive today because their parents knew how to perform CPR and responded quickly. Learn how to resuscitate and ensure your skills are up-to-date.
Make it Safe
Royal Life Saving also has a program called Make it Safe, which focuses on portable pool safety – think inflatable or wading styles – that ask owners if they can ‘make it safe’, with information such as:
- Checking with your local council regarding fencing requirements;
- Ensuring you always actively supervise children within arms’ reach whenever they are in, or around the water;
- Never relying on older children to supervise younger children, no matter how confident you are about their ability to supervise the younger child;
- Ensuring you empty smaller pools and putting them away when you are finished with them; and
- Always storing portable pools safely away from young children, and ensuring the pool cannot fill with rain water or water from sprinklers.
“Owning a pool or spa is one of life’s great pleasures, but for the safety of young children and non-swimmers, it’s imperative that they are properly secured and maintained,” says Chris Fitzmaurice, national manager of Swimart pool and spa professionals.
“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 Fitzmaurice.
Swimart’s key safety tips include:
- Keep fences, gates and child resistant locks in good working order
- Ensure there are no gaps under the pool fence that young children can climb under
- All fences should be at least 1.2 metres high*
- Gates must swing outward from the pool area and be self-closing and latching from any position
- Children should be taught to swim from an early age
- Never leave gates or doors propped open
- Don’t leave objects near the fence which children can move to gain access to the pool
- Learn CPR
*Each state and territory in Australia has its own laws regarding pool fencing, so check with your local SPASA or local council.
Top image courtesy of Swimart