Keeping your kids safe around the pool

A swimming pool in the backyard can be a fantastic addition to any family home, providing both the kids and the adults a fun way to get active and play outdoors during the summer months. However, the harsh truth is that accidents can and do happen every year. Tragically, in 2015, a total of 26 infants and toddlers under five drowned in Australia, with more than half of these occurring in a swimming pool. Fortunately, there are many things parents can do to mitigate the dangers. Vigilance, first-aid training, and preparation can ultimately save lives. 

Always have an eye on your kids

The importance of watching your children while they're in and around the swimming pool cannot be overstressed. This means maintaining consistent visual contact with your children, not just glancing up at them every so often, and being within a distance that allows you to react and reach them quickly if something goes wrong. It almost goes without saying that the risks rise tenfold when a young child with minimal swimming abilities is left alone, even for a few minutes. If you need to go somewhere, take your children with you. If your children are going to a friend's or neighbour's house to swim, double check that they will be supervised by an adult while they're there. 

Teach your child how to swim and yourself how to save their lives

Your child should know both about pool safety and how to swim before you let them into a home swimming pool. It's wise to teach your kids about how to swim and water safety from an early age by taking them to a local swimming pool for lessons. Have your children wear floaties if they're still uncomfortable; just be sure they don't flip while wearing them. At the same time, you should familiarise yourself with CPR procedure by taking a course if possible. It's also handy to have a sign detailing how to perform CPR placed somewhere by your pool. These simple preparations can be invaluable if disaster strikes. 

Choose an adequate fence for your pool

Having an adequate pool fence for your home is incredibly important. About 81% of the aforementioned cases of drowning happened as a result of a child accidentally falling into a body of water. Due to these preventable deaths, Australian state governments across the board have made pool fencing a requirement for indoor, in-ground and above-ground swimming pools, as well as bathing and wading pools, hot tubs, jacuzzis and spas. While there is some variation between states, the Australian Standard (AS1926.1) states a pool should be at least 1.2 metres high, not have any climbing footholds or spaces big enough for a toddler to get through and be strong enough and made out of materials rigid enough to withstand force. While you can install pool fences and balustrades yourself, having a professional pool contractor do it is usually safer. It is also important to adequately check and maintain the fence and the gate once they're installed.

With proper training and preparation, pools can be incredibly fun. By staying attentive and smart, you can enjoy them without fear.