Take ac­tion to cut risk of drown­ing

Pilbara News - - Opinion - Gwyn­neth Hay­wood Gwyn­neth Hay­wood is se­nior re­gional of­fi­cer, Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion Divi­sion, Pil­bara, Depart­ment of Com­merce.

The Royal Life Sav­ing So­ci­ety’s lat­est an­nual Na­tional Drown­ing Re­port has found swim­ming pool drown­ing deaths have in­creased in WA.

Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion is join­ing the cam­paign to high­light strong pool safety mes­sages that need to be heard by the com­mu­nity this sum­mer.

Trag­i­cally, chil­dren un­der five ac­count for the largest num­ber of swim­ming pool drown­ing deaths in Aus­tralia. Four­teen chil­dren from that age drowned in swim­ming pools in 2013-14.

Adults need to con­stantly su­per­vise young chil­dren in, and around, wa­ter. Don’t get dis­tracted.

Even check­ing your mo­bile phone or hang­ing wash­ing on the line can leave enough time for a tragedy to oc­cur.

At fam­ily gath­er­ings, nom­i­nate an adult to su­per­vise the chil­dren. That adult needs to ac­cept re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­main vig­i­lant, sober and ideally be trained in first-aid.

Any pool with wa­ter deeper than 30cm, or the length of an av­er­age ruler, must be fenced and have a self-clos­ing, self-latch­ing gate.

De­tails about WA pool fenc­ing laws can be found on the Build­ing Com­mis­sion’s web­site, at www.com­merce.wa.gov.au/ build­ing-com­mis­sion/ swim­ming­pools.

All too of­ten we hear of gates that have been propped open or ob­jects that can be climbed on left near the fence — this needs to stop.

It is also im­por­tant for home own­ers or oc­cu­piers to reg­u­larly check that pool fences, gates and posts have not been com­pro­mised by sun ex­po­sure over time.

Por­ta­ble pools with a wa­ter depth less than 30cm pose a se­ri­ous drown­ing risk even though they do not need to be fenced off.

A small child can drown in as lit­tle as 5cm of wa­ter within two min­utes in to­tal si­lence.

Be ab­so­lutely sure to com­pletely empty por­ta­ble pools af­ter use and store them away se­curely.

Leav­ing them out where they can fill up with rain or sprin­kler wa­ter could prove to be a fa­tal mis­take. Last year a na­tional stan­dard was in­tro­duced re­quir­ing manda­tory warn­ings to be in­cluded with all por­ta­ble pools sold in Aus­tralia.

Flota­tion devices should not be seen as a re­place­ment for adult su­per­vi­sion. Arm­bands, rubber rings or float­ing mat­tresses are made of ma­te­ri­als that can per­ish in the sun or be burst by a sharp ob­ject, mean­ing they can de­flate un­ex­pect­edly.

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