GUEST POST: Pool Safety
Creating a Child Safe Pool Environment
Any cautious parent knows the value of pool supervision, keeps the gate shut, and shudders in horror at the thought of losing a loved one to drowning. Rather than preaching to the converted, I thought it would be more useful to look at the areas that, from my experience, tend to be most overlooked.
Pool Fencing Guidelines
In my home state of Queensland, Australia, the government has introduced strict pool safety laws to prevent child drowning. Whether or not you are obliged to follow similar guidelines, it’s a great way to ensure extra peace of mind!
- The golden rule to follow is “no more than 10cm”. No gaps in the fence, gate or any other entrance should exceed this.
- Never underestimate a child’s adventurous nature. Keeping climbable furniture away from the fence is obvious, but even vines, plants and hanging clothes can pose a threat. This may seem a little paranoid, but when there’s a will, there’s a way! Taps are a particularly common method of secret entry.
- A CPR sign is always a great move. They’re readily available online and – speaking from experience – provide a life-saving memory jogger in an emergency.
- Every time you use the gate, double-check that it self-closes quickly and securely, with no intervention needed.
- Install locks or bars on adjoining doors and windows preventing from opening more than – you guessed it – 10 cm!
- And because it always bears repeating: remove all temptations, keeping toys or colourful accessories entirely out of sight.
If your pool cover is not specifically designed for safety, there’s a chance it could actually increase the risk of drowning. Solar or mesh covers (designed for retaining hint, catching leaves or sealing over winter) might have practical purposes, but they’re also responsible for some of the most tragic and preventable pool accidents in recent years.
Never allow swimming in a partially covered pool. Even accomplished adult swimmers have lost their lives by becoming entangled underneath. Even from above, there’s also no guarantee that a cover is strong (or well installed) enough to handle human weight. In one particularly dreadful case, two young girls (possibly mistaking the cover for a trampoline) became trapped underwater, unable to surface from the weight of the cover pressing in from all directions.
When children are involved, the only viable option is hard cover specifically designed for safety. Anything else just isn’t worth the risk.
Pool Safety Lessons
Swimming lessons for infants can be a wonderful parent-child bonding exercise. These classes are designed for general aquatic fun, as well as helping kids adapt to water.
Be wary, however, of courses specifically marketed at infant safety. While such claims are generally well-intentioned, current research shows that for children under four, “prevention” classes offer no detectible improvement in child safety.
After the age of four, your child will be developmentally ready to learn, as well as pick up the motor skills necessary for basic survival tricks. Of course, none of the above is a substitute for the golden rule of Touch Supervision: keep young children at arm’s length at all times.
When it comes to pool safety, you can never be too diligent or paranoid. I hope the above tips help you make the pool that little bit safer!
Guest blog by Alice Starr from The Pool Fence People, a Brisbane business specialising in pool safety inspections.
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Date: May 29, 2012