Pool safety

With summer well upon us it is timely to mention the importance of swimming pool safety, particularly the requirement for supervision at both private and public swimming pools.

Pool fencing requirements are only the first line of defence when you look at swimming pool safety. An increasing number of children are drowning by getting through, under or over existing pool gates and fencing that their parents believed were secure. In NSW, an average of 11 children under five years of age drown annually, with a further 62 children being admitted to hospital each year for near drowning. 

Children under five years of age have the highest mortality rate out of any age group, with approximately 70% of drowning deaths occurring in swimming pools. With small children supervision is so vital because children drown silently and quickly. Unlike adults, they don't splash, they don't scream, they don't make any sounds that would alert you, so you need to ensure that adequate supervision is available in, on, or around water.

What is Supervision?

Supervision is constant visual contact with your child. You should be within arm’s reach and be in a position to respond quickly. It is not an occasional glance while you nap, read or undertake household chores, and it is not looking out at your kids playing outside while you are inside.

Why do I need to supervise so actively?

The lack of direct adult supervision is the main factor in 70% of toddler drowning deaths. Indirect supervision has resulted in the loss of many young lives, proving that when a parent/carer’s attention is focused on something else, tragedies can occur.

Can older kids watch younger kids?

No.  Parents’ leaving young children in the care of other siblings has been a factor in a number of toddler drowning deaths. Older children are not equipped with the skills to perceive and respond to an emergency situation, nor should they be given this responsibility.

How can I best supervise my child?

By being within arm’s reach and engaged and interacting with your child when they are in, on or around water.

What is the best way to supervise children at parties?

If there are a small number of children, make an adult responsible for their care, if this person leaves they should ask someone else to take over. If there are a large number of children, leave an adult stationed at different places where the children will play to monitor the area

POOL SAFETY: Follow these guidelines to ensure your family's safety in the pool this summer. Photo supplied.

POOL SAFETY: Follow these guidelines to ensure your family's safety in the pool this summer. Photo supplied.

By understanding and the matters discussed above, you will ensure a safer pool and swimming environment for all users. Further information on swimming pool safety can be obtained by contacting Weddin Shire Council or the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia.

What is a swimming pool?

All portable, inflatable, spa, aboveground and inground pools that are capable of being filled with water to a depth of 300mm or more are classed as swimming pools and are required to be fenced in accordance with the NSW Swimming Pool Act 1992.

What do I need to do if installing a pool?

The construction of a pool (including inflatable) is considered a development, so you MUST lodge an application with Council and gain consent before installation.

Your application when lodged will be assessed and determined by Council, after approval notification your pool will be recorded on Council’s Swimming Pool Register.

How high must the fence be?

In accordance with the Australian Standards for Fences and Gates for Private Swimming Pools (AS 1926.1 2012), the major requirements are that the ground clearance of the fence is not to exceed 100mm and fence and gate height be not less than 1.2 metres (1.8 metres if a boundary fence) and/or your house wall.  Pool gates should be mounted so as to swing away from the pool area and be fitted with a self-closing device with the latch at a height of 1.5m.

Further requirements regarding pickets, rails and fencing materials can be obtained from the AS 1926.1 2012 for Fences and Gates for Private Swimming Pools or by contacting Council.

Why comply?

In NSW, an average of 11 children under five years of age drown annually, with a further 62 children being admitted to hospital each year for near drowning.  Children under five years of age are at greatest risk, with approximately 70% of drowning deaths occurring in swimming pools.

Pool fencing gives added protection by preventing access to the pool area.  However, inadequate pool fencing continues to be a major contributing factor in the rate of drowning among children under five years of age.

Council is responsible for ensuring that all privately owned swimming pools comply with the Swimming Pools Act.  Failure to do so by the owner can result in financial penalties and/or court action.

Over the next 12 months Council will be conducting random backyard pool inspections to ensure compliance.

NSW (Compulsory) Swimming Pool Register

On the 29th April, 2013 pool owners were required to register their backyard swimming pools in an online register provided by the NSW State Government.  Visit the register website at www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au and follow the easy registration steps.

Need help or more information?

Contact Council’s Environmental Services Department on 02 63431212 or visit Council’s Website www.weddin.nsw.gov.au to view a checklist on Home Swimming Pool Safety.