More than half of the drowning deaths of children in NSW happened because of a faulty pool gate or the gate being propped open.
More than half of the drowning deaths of children in NSW happened because of a faulty pool gate or the gate being propped open. ScoWill

There's a killer in your backyard: Crackdown on pool safety

SHOCKING new data has revealed more than half of the drowning deaths of children aged 0-5 happened because of a faulty pool gate or the gate being propped open.

The research - released today by Royal Life Saving New South Wales - also showed that 95% of pools failed to meet compliance at first inspection.

A new campaign to improve home pool safety kicks off this week, coinciding with major changes to pool compliance laws.

Royal Life Saving NSW chief executive David Macallister said a "horrifying" number of children had drowned in backyard pools or spas, and 55% of them could have been prevented if gates had been checked or closed properly.

Over the past 13 years, 83 children have drowned and another 80 children have suffered brain damage as a result of being immersed in a pool.

And despite cooler temperatures on the Northern Rivers, Mr Macallister said drownings could happen at any time of the year.

"Because New South Wales has such great weather, autumn is still a time when we have gatherings around pools," he said.

"Make sure your spa or pool is up to scratch.

"Be vigilant about safety and compliance."

Mr Macallister said many of the compliance issues related to fencing or pool gates.

But the push is on to make the Northern Rivers - and the whole of NSW - as safe as possible when it comes to backyard pools.

From this Friday, all spas and pools will have either a relevant occupation certificate, a certificate of compliance or a certificate of non-compliance issued from the NSW Swimming Pool Register.

It is "all about saving young lives" and raising awareness, Mr Macallister said.

"Ultimately if you are buying, selling or leasing a property with a spa or pool you absolutely have to have one of the certificates," he said.

"Certificates can only be issued by either your local council or an independent certifier who is registered with the Buildings Professional Board.

"After an inspection, if your spa or pool is non-compliant you will be issued with a Certificate of Non-Compliance.

"Royal Life Saving would strongly urge you to undertake repairs or maintenance urgently.

"Alternatively, if you are selling your property, you can transfer the obligation of obtaining a certificate of compliance to the purchaser.

"They then have 90 days from settlement to address the non-compliance and obtain a Certificate of Compliance."

Local Government Minister Paul Toole said that if pool gates were closed properly in the first place, "it is likely we would immediately halve the number of young people drowning in backyard pools".

"While there is no substitute for vigilant adult supervision of children, this change will ensure that new pool owners understand what they need to do to make their pools safe," he said.

For more information visit www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au

POOL SAFETY

> Gate must swing outward from pool and the latch must be more than 1.5m from the ground. It must be self-closing and latch shut on first swing

> Fence must be secure and at least 1.2m high

> Toys should be stored securely away from the pool

> Children aged under 5 should be within arm's reach of an adult at all times

> Pool chemicals should be stored out of sight and out of reach

SOURCE: Royal Life Saving NSW



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