Nothing beats that first hot day of the season when backyard BBQs across the country get dusted off and pool gates open for the first time in months.
And as the weather heats up, so does the amount of time we spend in the pool. If you’re lucky enough to have a pool in your home – or a friend’s home you often visit – it’s helpful to be aware of the dangers backyard pools can pose.
Tragically, drowning is the third most common cause of death for kids in Australia aged one to 14. And it can happen very quickly – in as little as 20 seconds, with small toddlers being the most at risk.
But that doesn’t mean you should stop having fun in the sun with the family over summer. It just means there are precautions you can take to ensure your pool, and everyone using it, is safe.
Maintain constant supervision
It’s a given that you should never leave children alone around the pool, but when you’re watching – ensure you’re watching constantly. An occasional glance just won’t cut it, because a child can drown in as little as 20 seconds.
If you’re entrusting someone else to watch over the kids in the pool, it’s best that it’s an adult – not a teenager under 16.
Safeguard the area
A pool safety fence is absolutely vital to ensure children stay safe while playing outside. When choosing a fence, keep in mind the regulations it must adhere to – it must have self-closing and self-latching functionality, must be at least 1.2m high, and must have vertical bars no more than 100mm apart, and horizontal bars at least 900mm apart.
If your current pool fence doesn’t meet these standards, please replace it immediately.
Keep watch at public pools
If you’re taking the kids for a dip in the public swimming pool, it’s important to be just as vigilant as you’d be at home. Lifeguards are there to keep an eye on swimmers, but they’re looking out at lots of people – so keep close watch on the kids for one-on-one supervision.
Pick pool toys wisely
Kids love splashing around the pool with their toys. From big floaties and rafts, to pool noodles and kickboards – they can provide endless entertainment for kiddies while also keeping them above the water. It’s important to remember, however, that floatation devices aren’t a safe substitute for adult supervision – and kids still need to be actively watched while in the water.
You should also always make sure your pool toys adhere to Australian standards – and that the toy is suitable for your child's age and weight.
When you’re done with your swim sesh, all pool toys and floaties should be stored away so they don’t tempt children into the pool area.
Store chemicals safely
Pool chemicals are necessary in preventing the spread of nasty germs in pool water, but they can be a hazard for young children. Ensure all pool chemicals are stored away out-of-sight in a hard-to-reach area that kids can’t easily get to.
Have rescue equipment on-hand
In the unfortunate event of something going wrong, it’s best to have rescue equipment on hand. This includes a life ring and rescue tube you can use to pull a person in danger back out of the water. For easy access, store this rescue equipment in a clearly marked and easy-to-access area.