New pool laws aim to keep drowning deaths at bay
POOL owners are being urged to take extra precaution in the final months of summer to avoid a repeat of last year's statistics that left New South Wales recording the largest number of drowning deaths (100) in the country.
Poolwerx Ballina and Byron Bay owner Stuart Hallam said recent figures released by the Royal Lifesaving Society show 59 people had drowned in Australia since the start of December alone, a worrying 16% increase on last year's figures.
The report comes in the lead up to the introduction of new legislation on April 29 that will require pool owners in NSW to produce a current swimming pool compliance certificate before they sell or lease their property. Fines of up to $5500 could apply for non-compliance.
Mr Hallam said he welcomed the new legislation which would go a long way to increasing safety compliance and potentially saving the lives of some of our most vulnerable.
"The statistic that worries me most from the Royal Lifesaving Society report is the number of near-drownings of children," he said.
"Children under the age of five accounted for well over half of the reported near drownings in home swimming pools."
Founder of the Kids Alive Do The Five program, Laurie Lawrence, said despite the tragic start to the season, drownings were preventable.
"I can't stress enough the importance of teaching your kids to swim from an early age," he said.
"Arming young children with basic water safety skills will give them a fighting chance if they fall in by accident.
"It also gives parents vital seconds to respond - and mere seconds can make all the difference."
Mr Lawrence said research showed half of parents weren't getting swimming lessons for their children under five.
He said last year, 26 children under four died from drowning.
"We need proper fencing laws that is undisputable, but more time needs to be spent on reiterating the vital importance of making sure children are armed with the right water safety skills too."
Laurie said when it comes to children under five, proper supervision was also critical.