One of the leading causes of death for Australian children under 5 years of age is drowning. Statistics from the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia’s National Drowning Report show that in 2017/18, 18 Australian children aged 0 to 4 years drowned. The majority of these drowning incidents (67%) occurred in backyard swimming pools.
Matt Welsh OAM and Kidsafe Australia have teamed up to help save lives over summer. The ‘Safe Barriers Save Lives’ backyard pool safety campaign raises awareness of the importance for pool owners to check the safety of their pool barriers and set their backyard pool defence in the lead up to the warmer months. Safety barriers can be effective in reducing the risk of drowning incidents, however evidence suggests that a large number of drowning deaths are the result of barriers that are faulty or non-compliant with Australian Standards.
Here are some of the common issues with pool barriers:
- Gates and doors don’t self-latch or self-close;
- Climbable objects are often placed near the barrier which could allow a child to climb over the fence (e.g. pot plants, chairs, pool pumps near the
- Excess space under the fence; and
- Misuse of the gate (e.g. propping the pool gate open).
Simply having a pool barrier and gate isn’t ‘job done’. Kidsafe urges pool and spa owners to take 15 to 20 minutes to check and maintain their pool gate, barrier and its surrounds.
For further information on the campaign and to access resources including the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia’s home pool safety checklist, please visit http://kidsafe.com.au/closing-the-gate-on-backyard-drowning.