OPINION

Check pool gate and fence to ensure area is safe

SAFETY: Check your pool fence and gate before your next party. Picture: Shutterstock
SAFETY: Check your pool fence and gate before your next party. Picture: Shutterstock

The Aussie summer is finally here, and that means pool parties are about to be in full swing.

As we inch towards Christmas, families and friends will gather to celebrate the holidays and more often than not, there's a pool involved.

However, throughout the joys of the festive season it's important to note that safety and fun are an excellent combination for a party.

It's easy to get carried away when in the middle of hosting or attending a pool party but the truth is most of the checks should be done long before guests arrive.

The key to achieve the perfect pool party is through a safe, correctly fenced and gated pool, coupled with constant supervision when kids are around.

Drowning is silent.

There is no warning, no screaming. Prevention is the answer.

If you are hosting a pool party this summer, taking steps to ensure the occasion is not only safe but also fun is crucial to having a risk-free and successful event.

These include going to the effort of gauging the swimming levels of all the guests and allocating supervisor roles between the adults.

Setting boundaries is incredibly important and making sure that all guests are aware of these is important.

For the little party guests, there must be clear rules in place like no running or pushing in the pool area, distinguishing the shallow from the deep end of the pool, and reminding everyone that the pool gate is to always be shut and only opened by an adult.

Remember kids shouldn't supervise other children until they could become a lifeguard at 17 years of age.

Until then they don't have the risk-taking profile to manage any situations which may arise.

If your child can and has swum independently for at least two to three years, then as long as you have eyes on them, allow them to join other children in the pool.

This is a great way to encourage independence while swimming.

However, this isn't a reason to relax supervision, as adults we need to be able to react should anything go wrong.

Children also love pool toys, so it's important to take them out of the pool when they're not being used.

Children can easily get stuck under pool tools, so don't leave them lying around and make sure they are securely put away.

A great way to encourage and improve kids' confidence around the pool is by showing them how to recover from a fall into the pool or from a floating object.

As 'Check-Your-Pool-Gate Month' takes place annually in December, it's the perfect time to raise awareness to pool owners to ensure they conduct their own safety checks to make certain their pool gate complies.

It is important to check that the gate complies with all the Australian Standards for pool safety.

Taking five minutes out of your day to check if your pool reaches these guidelines could help save a life.

Even though Aussies are generally safety conscious, as we enter pool party season, I want to remind all Aussie families of the do's and don'ts when it comes to pool gate safety.

Summer is the peak drowning season and pool gates are one of the top lines of defence in preventing children unsupervised access.

The key to achieve the perfect pool party is through a safe, correctly fenced and gated pool, coupled with constant supervision when kids are around. Drowning is silent.

With backyard pools responsible for so many drownings in under 5s, it is concerning that the MagnaLatch® Pool Safety Report, commissioned by D&D Technologies, reveals more than half of pool owners in Australia are not checking their pool gate, fence, and surrounds adequately.

It also found almost half (49 per cent) of Australians believe it is acceptable to leave a pool gate propped open during a party.

Considering the majority (87 per cent) of Australian pool owners are planning to host a pool party this summer, it is vital they check their gates are working properly and doing their job.

Because after all, the cost of a properly working and maintained pool gate may save a life.

I urge all pool owners to visit www.checkyourpoolgate.com.au and download the Perfect Pool Parties Guide.

Not only does this outline the top tips to ensure your pool area, fence and gate are safe, but it also contains great ideas for planning the perfect summer pool party.

I am hopeful that we can band together to improve pool gate safety in Australia by taking these easy steps and tips on board.

The time is now.

  • Emma Lawrence, operations manager Kids Alive.