Pool Safety For Children And How To Ensure That Children Are Safe When Playing In Backyard Pools. It Includes Government Regulations

2555 words - 11 pages

Children and water areas:Not only is swimming an activity enjoyed by most young children, but it can be one of the most healthy forms of recreation. Unfortunately, as most parents know, the swimming pool and surrounding area can pose very real hazards. Children are curious creatures who love to explore new terrain actively, this can cause significant complications to families who live or play around water areas such as pools, dams, spas, rivers, ponds, creeks and the beach. Children are not able to competently swim independently and therefore certain measures need to be addressed in order to prevent accidents or fatalities occurring as a result of water related dangers. The particular situation that I have chosen to explore revolves around crowded family homes (such as on celebration days) where a pool is present and the children are free to run around and explore amongst each other in the backyard without constant supervision from one parent or caregiver.Identification of potential dangers of the situation:Whilst observing children at play in the particular situation aforementioned I came across a multitude of potential dangers which compromised the safety of the children. I attended a family 'get together' which included over twenty five persons and twelve children under the age of 7 years.List of potential dangers and their outcomes:Unsupervised play around the pool area:A child could jump into the pool quite innocently to collect something that fell in or to simply go for a quick swim. The fact that there is no one parent continuously focusing on the supervision of the children could result in a child incapable of swimming ultimately falling in and drowning. A child can adequately keep themselves above water on their own and without the correct measure of supervision it could be too late before the incident is noticedBody boards, mats and other play equipment on the edge of the poolside:It is easy for a child to slip on a mat or board and fall into the water or even damage their body against the edge of a poolside should the board/mat slip from underneath them, ultimately causing bodily harm or fatalityOlder children and rough play:Older children play far more vigorously and with frequent excessive force to that of young children. Mixing the two age groups around a pool side or in the pool can present a problem as the children may come into contact with each other during play and thus, too heavy contact with younger ones resulting in injuryParents/caregivers consuming alcohol around the pool area:Parents and caregivers of children should not be supervising children and consuming excessive amounts of alcohol whilst supervising because it can impair vision and reaction times, in pool related incidents, seconds count and therefore instant actions must be taken to avoid disability or fatality.Electrical equipment around the pool area:It is important to make sure that there is not electrical equipment around the pool area so as to ensure prevention against electrocutionChemicals around the pool side:It is imperative that chemicals are kept away from the reach of children because it can cause serious burn, poisoning and other injury if children come into contact with pool chemicals. It is also important to ensure that chemical levels in pools are not excessive.Legal regulations and legislation regarding pools:Currently, in Australia the regulations surrounding pools and child safety are that:*If your pool was built before 1 August 1990 then you do not have to have a swimming pool fence as such, but the pool MUST be isolated from access from the street or from adjoining properties. The pool does not have to be separated from any residential building on the land provided the means of access from the building to the pool is restricted at all times. If your pool was built after 1 August 1990, then you are required to have a child resistant pool fence that complies with Australian Standard 1926-1986 "Fences and Gates for Swimming Pools". You should contact your council for further information on these standards.*Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1987, it is usually the landlord's responsibility for providing and maintaining the premises in a reasonable state of repair, however the tenant is not to intentionally or negligently damage the premises and the tenant must notify the landlord of any damage.*You must acquire an identity card relating to mesh fences from your council to ensure that your fence meets the requirements of government legislation about pool fences.*The government issues recommendations regarding safe water chemical levels that are instructed as important to follow however it is not law to do so.The Public Health Association of Australia resolves that is necessary to enact legislation as follows:* legislation to be enacted to ensure that all new domestic swimming pools are surrounded by approved fences and gates, isolating pools from residences;* retrospective legislation to be enacted requiring homeowners to fence existing residential swimming pools to the same standard as new pools; where this is impracticable other means for achieving child-resistant barriers between houses and pools must be required;* penalties for non-compliance with legislation to be adequate to ensure compliance;* inspection programs to ensure adequate maintenance of fences and gates;* public education campaigns (see point 11); and,* improved collection of data on drowning and near-drowning incidents, the numbers of swimming pools and patterns of use, and the prevalence of pool fencing.* 'Effective' means four-sided fencing meeting the Australian Standard, that separates the house from the pool.The following is a checklist provided by Safewaters.net regarding government legislation for pools:This checklist applies to:*All pools installed after 1 August 1990 excluding pools on very small properties (less than 230 m2), large properties (greater than 2 hectares) and waterfront properties.Is there a pool fence separating the pool from your house and the neighbourhood? YesIs the outside of the pool fence at least 1.2m high all the way around? YesIs the gap between the bottom of the fence and the ground less than 10cm? YesAre all vertical or near vertical palings less than 10cm apart? YesAre all horizontal or near horizontal fence rails more than 90cm apart so a small child cannot get a foothold to help climb over the fence? YesIs your pool fence well maintained and in a good state of repair as an effective and safe barrier? (eg no holes, broken palings) YesIs your pool fence 1.2m clear of any objects such as BBQs, trees, rocks, shrubs and deckchairs that could help a small child climb over the fence? YesIs your clothes line, BBQ or similar object not directly associated with the swimming pool and which could lead to the pool gate being left open located outside of the fenced pool area? YesIf the wall of the residence forms part of the child-resistant barrier, is this wall without windows, doors or other openings that permit access to the pool? YesIs there an appropriate resuscitation sign displayed in the immediate vicinity of the pool area? YesDoes the gate close and latch by itself from any open position? YesDoes the gate open outwards, away from the pool? YesIs the gate release mechanism 1.5m above ground level or alternatively, located inside the gate at 1.2m and covered by an approved shield? YesThis checklist applies to:*All pools installed on very small properties (less than 230 m2); and*All pools installed before 1 August 1990 excluding pools on large properties (greater than 2 hectares) and pools on waterfront properties.If you have a pool fence that completely surrounds your pool, you should refer to the previous checklist that applies to pools installed after 1 August 1990. Alternatively the following questions should be answered:Is there a child resistant barrier separating the pool from the neighbourhood? YesIs there an appropriate resuscitation sign displayed in the immediate vicinity of the pool area? YesDoes each wall that is used as a barrier between a pool and adjacent properties have vertical sides, have a height of at least 1.2m and have no footholds wider than 10mm within 1.1m of the top of the wall? YesDOORS - Do all doors that could allow a child to go from your house directly to the pool:Have locking mechanisms (eg lock, latch, chain) which are located at least 1.5m above the floor level? YesWhen locked, have no opening greater than 10.5cm and below 1.5m above floor through which a small child could pass? YesNot contain any footholds on the door or door frame wider than 10mm between the release mechanism for the door and any point 10cm above finished floor level? YesWINDOWS - Do all windows that could allow a child to go from the house directly to the pool:Have the bottom of the lowest opening panel of the window at least 1.2m above the finished floor level when closed? YesHave no footholds wider than 10mm between the bottom of the lowest opening panel of the window and any point within 1.1m below the bottom of that panel? YesNote: the above requirements for windows do not apply if there are no gaps greater than 10.5cm in the window, grille or flyscreen when fixed by a keyed locking device. YesIrrespective of minimum requirements in the legislation for pools that fall into these categories, in the interest of water safety, pool owners are encouraged to provide an approved Child Resistant Barrier to separate the pool from the residence where possible.This checklist applies to:*All pools on large properties (area greater than 2 hectares); and*All pools on waterfront properties regardless of when they were installed.A waterfront property is defined as having frontage to any large body of water, such as a permanently flowing creek, a river, a canal, a pond, a lake, a reservoir, an estuary, the sea or any other body of water whether natural or artificial. If you are unsure if your property is a waterfront property, contact your local council.Does each wall that is used as a barrier between a pool and adjacent properties have vertical sides, have a height of at least 1.2m and have no footholds wider than 10mm within 1.1m of the top of the wall? YesIs there an appropriate resuscitation sign displayed in the immediate vicinity of the pool area? YesDOORS - Do all doors that could allow a child to go from your house directly to the pool:Have locking mechanisms (eg lock, latch, chain) which are located at least 1.5m above the finished floor level? YesWhen locked, have no opening greater than 10.5cm and below 1.5m above the floor through which a small child could pass? YesNot contain any footholds on the door or door frame wider than 10mm between the release mechanism for the door and any point 10cm above finished floor level? YesWINDOWS - Do all windows that could allow a child to go from your house directly to the pool:Have the bottom of the lowest opening panel of the window at least 1.2m above the finished floor level when closed? YesHave no footholds wider than 10mm between the bottom of the lowest opening panel of the window and any point within 1.1m below the bottom of that panel?Note: the above requirements for windows do not apply if there are no gaps greater than 10.5cm in the window, grille or flyscreen when fixed by a keyed locking device. YesIrrespective of minimum requirements in the legislation for pools that fall into these categories, in the interest of water safety, pool owners are encouraged to provide an approved Child Resistant Barrier to separate the pool from other areas of the property where possible.Note: This checklist is to be used as a guide only. For further advice on ensuring that your pool is fully compliant with the legislation you should contact your local council. Your local council can also inspect your pool and issue a compliance certificate if your pool is compliant with the legislation. Councils may charge a fee for this.Preventative measures to stop pool and water related accidents occurring:*Learn water safety and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if you are responsible for the safety of children near water.*Teach children to swim early in life, but do not assume that lessons will always protect a child.*Tell children to always swim with a buddy*Prevent access of young children to pools, such as installing fences or alarm systems.*Identify areas that are dangerous to swimmers in natural bodies of water, such as currents, hidden rocks or tree trunks.*Fences and walls should be at least 4 feet high and installed completely around the pool. Fence gates should open outward from the pool and should be self-closing and self- latching. The latch should be out of a small child's reach.*If your house forms one side of the barrier to the pool, then doors leading from the house to the pool should be protected with alarms that produce a sound when a door is unexpectedly opened.*A power safety cover -- a motor-powered barrier that can be placed over the water area -- can be used when the pool is not in use.*Keep rescue equipment by the pool and be sure a phone is poolside with emergency numbers posted.*For above-ground pools, steps and ladders to the pool should be secured and locked, or removed when the pool is not in use.*If a child is missing, always look in the pool first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.*Pool alarms can be used as an added precaution but we do not advise relying solely on these devices, since a child could easily drown in the time it takes you to get to the pool after the alarm has sounded.

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