Water safety around backyard pools and spas

A serious message about water safety

Water safety is obviously a critical issue and unfortunately drowning is a leading cause of death for toddlers. There were 280 drownings across Australia in the previous fiscal year. Most drowning deaths occur in bathtubs, backyard swimming pools and spas.

It is estimated that for every child who dies from drowning, ten survive, but they may have long-term effects such as permanent brain damage.

Toddlers aged between one and three years are most at risk, because they are mobile and curious, but don’t understand the danger of water. The most important preventive tactic is to supervise your child around water at all times. This means actively watching them, keeping them within arm’s reach and not just glancing up every now and then. Don’t assume they will splash and yell for help if they get into trouble. Twenty seconds is all it takes for a toddler to drown.

Water safety around backyard pools and spas

To reduce the risk of your child drowning in the backyard pool:

  • Install a fence– pool fencing is required by law for any swimming pool or spa in excess of 300 mm (30 cm) in depth – and it must be maintained for the life of the pool or spa. Pool fencing must comply with the Australian Standard AS1926. Your local council can provide information on pool fencing laws.
  • Regularly check that the safety latch on the gate is in good working order.
  • Clear surrounding area – don’t leave any items or equipment close to the pool fence that would allow your child to climb up and over the fence.
  • Pack toys away– don’t leave floating toys in the pool or your child may try to reach for them.
  • Floatation Devices– a flotation device is not a replacement for supervision. Always supervise your child when they are wearing their personal flotation device, in case they tumble upside down or slip through the vest.
  • Tip out water– empty wading pools immediately after use.
  • Check your surroundings– when visiting other people’s houses, ask whether or not the owners have a pool, spa, pond or other body of exposed water on their land.

Water safety around the house

Suggestions for reducing the risks of your child drowning in and around the home include:

  • Always supervise your child in the bath.
  • Never leave an older child to supervise the younger child in the bath.
  • Take your child with you if your telephone or doorbell rings while supervising your child in the bath.
  • Empty the bath immediately after use.
  • Always keep the doors to the bathroom and laundry securely closed.
  • Use a nappy bucket with a tight-fitting lid, and keep the bucket closed at all times and out of your child’s reach.
  • Cover ponds, birdbaths and similar water sources with mesh.
  • Keep pet water bowls, aquariums and fish bowls well out of little children’s reach.

Learn to swim

Children (or anyone) can take formal swimming instruction from the age of four years. Water safety skills make up part of the tuition. Swimming programs are available for younger children and babies, but the emphasis is on building confidence and encouraging the child to enjoy water, rather than teaching them to swim.

Children under five years of age may not be able to use their swimming skills in an emergency, so never rely on this to keep them safe.

If you have ANY questions about the safety of your pool or spa, please feel free to contact us.