The stats are out – Royal Life Saving Australia’s 2019/20 report shows 248 people drowned in Australian waterways. That’s an 8% decrease on the previous year.
Out of these drownings, 12 were of children aged 0-4 years old. But, the most concerning statistic is that swimming pools with non-compliant fencing were the leading locations where these drownings took place. Of all of these drownings, most occurred at the child’s usual residence and less usual at the homes of extended family, friends or neighbours.
Non-compliance fences found at the above-recorded drownings include:
Similarly, Queensland Family and Child Commission have reported that lapses in the supervision of young children in, on or around water hazards are a significant factor in drowning deaths of young children. It’s become clear that supervisors must have stricter control around the pool, including swimming education and regular fence and gate inspections by pool owners, pool inspectors and the council.
As pool safety inspectors, our daily focus is ensuring that pool fences prevent access to young children. We think especially of the ages 0-5 that are not yet confident in swimming.
Every year, statistics similar to those of the RLSS and QFCC are released. Yet, even with improvement in the numbers, people’s lives are still heavily impacted by the loss or long-term injury of loved ones due to drowning and permanent injuries.
How, then, can we do more to start changing the way we protect our loved ones around pools and waterways.
We have come up with 3 things pool owners can start doing immediately to reduce Queensland drownings for good.
Active adult supervision – Your Nr. 1 drowning prevention.
The RLSS’s message ‘Keep Watch’ highlights the importance of active adult supervision, restricting access to water, water awareness and learning CPR. This message has no doubt had an impact but there is still more we can do. A compliant pool fence is your last line of defence and should never replace active adult supervision. Yet, lapses in supervision continue to be a contributory factor in tragic child drownings.
The QFCC analysed all fatal drowning cases among children aged 0-4 in the last 15 years and identified the following causes of distraction that lead to lapses in supervision.
Active supervision means focussing all of your attention on your children all of the time. When they are in or close to the water, you must be within arms’ reach, ready to enter the water in the case of an emergency.
Swimming and water safety education saves lives.
Comprehensive swimming and water safety education is the right of all children. Swimming, survival swimming and basic rescue are all lifesavers. Yet, barriers like cost, awareness, and access prevent parents from getting their young children educated. If these barriers prevent you from educating your child, strict supervision is vital to pools and waterways.
A pool fence is your last line of defence and should not be relied on as a form of access prevention during the lack of supervision.
Statistics show that out of all of the drownings in Qld, unmaintained and non-compliant pool fences were the leading locations where these drownings took place. In some instances, gates were even propped open!
We recommend that if you own a property with a pool, then swimming education should be at the top of your list of ways to protect your child.
Keeping your pool safety certificate up to date can save a life:
A pool safety certificate is valid for 2 years at a private home and 1 year at shared pools in apartment complexes, hotels, motels, and resorts.
QLD law states that you only need to renew your certificate when you sell or lease your property. However, it remains your responsibility to keep your pool safe and compliant with the latest pool safety laws. Failure to do so can result in hefty fines and, even worse, drownings!
As pool inspectors, every day, we see pool fences and gates that are non-compliant due to wear and tear and have possibly been in that state for a very long time.
That’s why we recommend keeping your pool fence compliant with the latest laws at all times by getting it inspected before your certificate expires. By doing this, you know that you can protect a child in the split second that your supervision lapses, and you’re relying on a compliant pool fence as your last defence.
Take a look at your pool fence today. Are you confident that your pool fence will prevent a young child from gaining access in the absence of supervision?
Download our pool safety certificate checklist to see if your fence complies with some of the major points that we check at an inspection.
Are you still sure that your pool fence will prevent a young child from gaining access?
The compliance of a pool safety fence can change fast! Most of the times, it happens without you even realising it. Wouldn’t you like to have peace of mind that your pool is safe?
At Poolinspec, we are dedicated to reducing the Queensland drowning numbers. With every pool inspection that we do, we protect one more life, but we can’t do it alone. As the pool owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your pool fence stays compliant after you have received your pool certificate. Leaving a gate propped open purely for convenience could cost a young child’s life, and a valid pool certificate won’t help in any way.
By working together in 2021, we can realise the RLSS’s vision ‘A water-loving nation, free from drowning.’
Call us today on 0457 445 197 to book your pool inspection and have peace of mind in the safety of your pool.