As fast summer approaches, Australians gear up for the endless, sunny days spent in and around the backyard swimming pool. This is a fantastic time of year, filled with hours of fun and laughter, but it also brings with it the added need to keep our kids safe around water.

We all know that it is virtually impossible to make something that is child-proof, because no matter what we do, kids find a way to make anything non-child proof! According to Kids Safe Australia, in 2014/15, over half of all toddler-drowning incidents in Australia occurred in a backyard pool (14 incidents – 54%) and it is sobering to consider that in the last ten years, more than 330 Australian children, under the age of five, drowned, 50% of those deaths occurring in backyard swimming pools. Many of these deaths could have been prevented, and the simple truth is that adult supervision is the best way to avoid serious accidents in the water.

Most Australian states have quite strict guidelines around pool safety standards that focus on the essential maintenance of pool fences and safety barriers to reduce the number of drowning and serious immersion injuries of young children in swimming pools.

Pool fences are a legal requirement in Victoria, and protect children and pets from entering the pool area.

However, fences can fail for a number of reasons:

  • The gates are not self-latching from all points.
  • The adjoining boundary fences have climbable rails.
  • There are climbable objects near the pool safety barriers.

Even the most well-meaning parent can be unaware of the security faults they may have, so it is important to look at a variety of ways to adequately enforce safety within your backyard. This is even more important if you are renting a residential property with a pool, as anecdotal evidence suggests that families renting property could be at greater risk of experiencing a backyard pool drowning tragedy.

Here are some basic tips to consider around backyard-pool safety:

  • Fit and maintain correct safety measures to gates, doors and windows that can be used to access the pool.
  • Maintain, repair or replace the safety latch if it isn’t working properly, and always continue to check the latch, even in the off-season.
  • Supervision means constant visual contact, not the occasional glance. If you leave the pool or water, even for a moment, take your child with you.
  • Always watch small children around paddling pools. Make sure you empty paddling pools immediately after your child has finished playing.
  • Familiarise your children with water by taking them to swimming lessons at the local pool from a young age.

You may also want to consider extra measures to protect pool-access such as the use of a high quality cover that fits securely across your pool. A good cover can lock across the pool with keyed-access only and a full-tension cover easily supports the full standing body-weight on an adult. If you are installing a pool cover to use as an extra form of security, make sure that you receive qualified, expert advice, and check back with websites such as Kids Safe Australia and Swim And Survive by the Royal Lifesaving Society Australia for guidelines.

Providing safety around water will continue to ensure that your summer is filled with family bliss.