Research reveals Aussie parents are ignoring pool gate safety and putting toddlers at risk.
Under-fives are the most at risk for backyard drownings, with one in three (33 per cent) parents admitting that a family member has had a near drowning experience involving a backyard pool.
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Despite this, a third of parents say they only check the safety of their pool area once a year or less.
Even with 82 per cent of pool owners being aware that faulty or unlatched pool gates is the most common cause of unauthorised access by toddlers to the pool areas, research reveals parents are still not checking the safety of their pool area, fence and gate.
New research by D&D Technologies, the manufacturer of the Australian-made MagnaLatch, reveals the main reasons parents of under-fives are not making the safety checks include not knowing what parts of the pool area to check (19 per cent), simply forgetting (18 per cent) and not having enough time (10 per cent).
According to Brisbane City Council, it is the responsibility of property owners with pools to ensure that pool barriers are in place at all times and compliant with State Government laws.
Home owners must register their pool on the State Government’s pool register and a pool safety certificate is required if the property is being sold or leased.
These steps are essential to prevent drownings and serious near-drowning injuries of children in pools.
So far this year, council has issued two fines and one warning for non-compliant pool fencing.
State Government legislation allows council to issue on-the-spot fines for pool fencing that is non-compliant.
Child water safety advocate Laurie Lawrence said he was shocked by the lack of diligence and urged all pool owners to check the safety of their pool gates during National Check Your Pool Gate Month this December.
“We know that kids who drown most commonly gain access to the pool area through a faulty fence or gate and this is something that should not be happening,” Mr Lawrence said.
“Pool owners need to check their fences, gates, latches and hinges regularly, as a gate that is not self-closing and self-latching provides instant and often undetected access for toddlers to the pool area.”
Sadly, 12 Aussie children under the age of five lost their lives in pools in 2018-19 and this age group has accounted for almost half of non-fatal drownings in the past 12 years.
John Clark, technical director of Australian company D&D Technologies, said the company was a long-time partner of Laurie Lawrence’s KidsAlive water safety program, and launched the Check Your Pool Gate initiative with him three years ago, to help eliminate childhood drownings caused by faulty pool gates.
Mr Clark said a simple check done regularly could save the life of a child. “Alarmingly, our survey revealed that one in three pool owners don’t check the safety of their pool area because they don’t have small children,” he said.
Meanwhile research from Poolwerx has shown that 36 per cent of parents have had a child or knew someone whose child had suffered a near-drowning experience.
More concerning was the fact 45 per cent of parents admitted they would expect excessive splashing if a child was drowning, yet drowning can often be a silent killer.
The survey also revealed that 38 per cent of parents have had to use CPR.
Poolwerx founder and CEO John O’Brien said: “Drowning is the leading cause of preventable death for children under the age of five, which is why Poolwerx continues champion water safety for swimmers of all ages.”