Under-five-year-olds are the most at risk for backyard drownings, yet 30 per cent of parents admit to only checking the safety of their pool area, fence and gate once a year or less. This is despite 33 per cent saying a family member had a near-drowning experience involving a backyard pool*.
There were several reasons that parents had not conducted a safety check; the number one response being ?they had no excuse? (40 per cent). This was followed by not knowing what aspect of safety to check (19 per cent), forgetting to check (18 per cent) and not enough time (10 per cent).
Child Water Safety Advocate and Former Australian Olympic Swimming Coach, Laurie Lawrence, has joined forces with D&D Technologies, the manufacturer of the Australian-made MagnaLatch? Pool Safety Gate Latch. Together, they are calling on pool owners to check the safety of their pool gates, as faulty pool gates and fences remain a leading cause of drownings of toddlers in Australia.
They?re naming the campaign National Check-Your-Pool-Gate Month, to highlight the importance of regular safety checks of pool gates and fences.
Laurie said that 12 Australian toddlers (aged 0-4) lost their lives because of swimming pool drownings in 2018/19. Over the past 12 years, this age group also had the highest incidence (42 per cent) of non-fatal drownings throughout Australia**.
December is the logical month to hold the campaign, as there is an increased risk for drownings during school holidays, and over 60 per cent of drowning deaths occur in the warmer months of spring and summer in 2018/19**.
Worryingly, pool fencing, especially gates, that are ?not compliant or known to be faulty? contributed to 39.3 per cent of childhood drownings in NSW between 2002 and 2017***.
How to make sure your pool area is safe for toddlers aged 0-4:
- Does your pool gate self-latch and self-close?
- Is your pool fence at least 1.2 metres above the finished ground surface?
- Is your gate latch release mechanism 1.5 metres above the ground?
- No gap bigger than 10cm at the bottom of the pool fence from the finished ground level.
- No gap bigger than 10cm between any vertical bars in the fence.
- Do you have a CPR chart on your pool wall?
- Do you have objects near your pool – chairs, tables, BBQ, toys, ladders or pot plants – that children could use to climb over the pool fence? If so, remove them. ?
Safety checklist for pool gates:
- Gate should open outwards, away from the pool.
- Latch release knob should be at least 1500mm above ground level.
- Gate must be self-closing and self-latching.
- Gate hinges should be rust-free and bind-free.
- Gate should carry reliable, tension-adjustable hinges.
- Latches should be magnetically triggered for superior safety and reliability.
- Latch must be adjustable for height and width.
- Hinges should be made of rust-free, bind-free polymer.
- Hinges must be adjustable for closing tension.
- Latch cannot be key locked in the ?open? position.
- Latch cannot be disengaged using implements.
- Gate latch cannot be shaken or jolted open.
- Gate will latch securely from any open angle or force.
- Gate complies with all Australian Standards for pool safety
Pool Fencing Standards
Pool fencing standards, codes and regulations vary from region to region. Before installing pool gates and fences, check with the local authorities in your area to ensure that you comply with local requirements.
The importance of the pool gate
The gate is the weakest link of the pool fence. Low quality or poorly maintained gates, latches and hinges can fail.
D&D Technologies is a Northern Beaches based design and manufacturing company that produces the MagnaLatch? , the world?s #1 gate safety latch, and TruClose? Hinges ? to help children be safer around pools.
The MagnaLatch? has a magnetic mechanism that ensures self-latching every time, with no jamming.
The MagnaLatch? and TruClose? Hinges are made from industrial-strength polymers and stainless steel, are Australian made and owned and feature a lifetime warranty.
Remember the ?Kids Alive Do The Five? message this December:
- Fence the pool
- Shut the gate
- Teach your kids to swim?it?s great
- Supervise ? watch your mate and,
- Learn how to resuscitate.
* D&D Technologies commissioned Pure Profile to conduct a survey of 1,000 Australian pool owners in November 2019. The survey was weighted against ABS data for location, gender and age and carried out online.
** Royal Life Saving Australia 2018/19 National Drowning Report.
*** NSW Child Drowning Report 2002-2017, Royal Life Saving Australia – A 15-year analysis of causal factors for fatal drowning of children under 5 years in private swimming pools.