Summer, school holidays and Christmas should be times of fun and relaxation and Consumer Protection wants to make sure that they are also safe times for everyone.
This year there’s a big focus on pool safety, so we’ve got Martin Roddis, a Senior Technical Officer from Building and Energy on The Mornings Show to talk about that part of Consumer Protection’s Safe Summer campaign.
In the 12 months from July 2018 to June 2019, of 276 drowning deaths in Australia, 31 were in swimming pools. More than half, were child drowning deaths. 12 of the children were 0-4 years old and four were 5-14 years old.
The age group most at risk of drowning in backyard pools are 1-3 year olds. Constant supervision is the key to keeping kids safe around water, so don’t get distracted if caring for children. Pool fences are super important as a drowning prevention strategy because let’s be honest it’s hard to watch children all the time, so putting a barrier to the water in place as an extra safety measure.
That’s why in most states if any pool has more than 30cms of water in it, it will need to be fenced. The fence must comply with set standards so check with your local council or government agency for safety barrier rules. Information on the pool barrier requirements in Western Australia can be found on the Building and Energy website.
Remember a barrier will only help if it’s working. We hear about broken latches or simply that someone has propped the gate open with a brick or plant pot. Check the locking devices on pool gates as they can be defective or wear out over time and never prop open the gate.
Where young children have drowned in backyard pools, it is known that pool gates and child-resistant door sets are generally the most common points of access. They are also known to be the most commonly found non-compliant elements in a pool barrier.
Ensure pool gates and child-resistant doorsets are maintained and functioning properly. Never disconnect the self-closing device on a child-resistant doorset.
It’s also important to note that children can drown in a small amount of water in portable pools. Which, even if thought to be empty, can fill up with water while left out in the rain or near the garden sprinkler. Store the portable pool after use where it cannot fill up with water.
Water Toy Safety
- Remember aquatic and flotation toys are not safety devices. So don’t assume a child is safe in the water wearing or using them.
- Mermaid tails or fins have become popular items but users need to be strong swimmers and should be supervised at all times. They are not recommended for children under the age of seven.
Christmas shoppers choose gifts wisely
- Have safety in mind when buying Christmas gifts for family and friends by making sure they are age-appropriate if young children are involved.
- Look out for choking hazards and button batteries. Button battery compartments must be secured so that they can’t be opened by children or come loose when the item is dropped.
- Searching the product safety Australia website will let you know if the gift has been recalled or banned . Always take note of warning labels and following safety instructions.
Other issues to keep in mind to ensure a safe summer:
- Trampolines are a popular Christmas gift but they can also be dangerous. With hundreds of children hospitalised each year after having accidents. Supervise their use, only allow one child to use it at a time, put padding on the frame and remove any hazards nearby.
- There has been at least 128 quad bike* related fatalities from 2011 to 2018. Quad bike deaths, usually due to rollovers, are most common during holiday periods. Take extra care and make sure riders are trained, experienced and always wear protective gear such as helmets. In our view, children should not use quad bikes.
- We welcome the Consumer Goods (Quad Bikes) Safety Standard 2019 which commenced last month (October). The safety standard requires that all new and imported quad bikes meet US and European standards. Have a label warning of the rollover risks clearly displayed, include information on the rollover risk in the owner’s manual and be tested for stability. Even though quad bikes are responsible for more fatalities than motorcycles and more injuries than tractors on rural properties, until now, quad bikes have not been subject to a safety standard.