Cheap and deadly
WE want to get through this summer without having to report on any children drowning in backyard swimming pools. There are several things parents can do to guard against these needless tragedies. Top of the list should be avoiding portable pools, unless they are fenced off.
The State Government would like to ban these “death traps”, such is its level of concern. But it can’t without the agreement of other States.
Instead, all it can do is warn families and implore retailers not to sell them. You might think this smacks of Nanny State alarmism.
But families deeply scarred by tragedy or near-tragedy from these pools would disagree. A quarter of all WA child drownings in private pools between 2009 and 2015 happened in one of these portable structures.
Under WA law, a barrier has to be erected around pools deeper than 30cm and a building permit is needed for a portable pool or spa that is set up for more than a month.
Some of these structures come with their own filtration systems allowing them to remain set up over summer. Without fences they are disasters waiting to happen.
One of the sellers of these pools, Bunnings, says it strongly encourages customers to consider their relevant pool fencing laws.
But as Commerce Minister Bill Johnston points out: “Nobody is going to buy a $500 pool if they also need to build a $2000 fence.”
These waist-high portable pools appeal to families who can’t afford to splash out $20,000-plus on a conventional pool.
“I’ve written to every retailer we can work out (who) sells portable pools and encourage them to no longer do it . . . many of them acknowledge the point I’m making, but don’t agree,” he said.
Mr Johnston said his advice to families contemplating buying such pools was: “If you can’t afford a fence, don’t go down that path. The risk is too great and the loss that you will personally suffer is too dramatic.”
Children can drown in seconds, even when adults are around. Vigilance and constant supervision is a must when little ones are near any body of water. When there are no adults around, the only thing ensuring our kids’ safety is a childproof physical barrier. Without one, it’s just not worth the risk.
Pay homage with pride
Last week we stressed why it is so important — indeed our solemn duty — to pay homage to our forebears who died in the service of their country. Today has special significance because we are marking the centenary of the end of World War I; a conflict burned into the soul of this country.
The Armistice of Compiègne was signed at 11am (Paris time) on this day in 1918. In Perth, we will stop what we’re doing at 11am to contemplate the enormous scale of death and suffering from this war and subsequent wars.
With prayers and through tears, we will also honour family members who served. We shall wear our poppies with pride because the bonds of love and loyalty to our fallen kin and countrymen can’t be broken, now or ever.
Responsibility for editorial comment is taken by the editor, Michael Beach, 50 Hasler Road, Osborne Park, WA 6017. Postal address: PO Box 1769, Osborne Park DC, WA 6916.