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Swim safe this summer

With thousands of swimming lessons missed during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to ensure our children are safe around water this summer.

Swimming and water play are part of an Australian childhood, but we need to take care when young ones are close to water. According to the Royal Children’s Hospital, drowning is the third most common cause of death for Australian children aged one to 14. Children can drown silently in as little as 20 seconds.

Private swimming pools can be a danger, often due to non-compliant pool-safety barriers or a lack of supervision. Even fish ponds,
fountains, paddling pools and eskies can be a drowning hazard for small children.

Is your pool or spa safety barrier compliant? Here’s what you should check:

  • Gates must be self-closing and self-latching.
  • Barriers must be rigid and secure.
  • Climbable objects, like pot plants, garden furniture, toys and vegetation, must be moved 1.2 metres away from the barrier.

Under Victorian Government legislation, all pool and spa owners are required to register their pool or spa with their local council and have the pool safety barrier inspected and certified every four years by a registered building surveyor or inspector.

Father and child playing in the pool.

Certificate date extended

On 12 October the Building Regulations 2018 were amended giving owners of pools and spas a six-month extension to the due
date for the first certificates of pool and spa barrier compliance.

For more details and to register, visit How to register your pool or spa.

Four expert tips to stay safe around water

KidSafe Victoria says for maximum safety, these four steps should be used together:

Designate a supervisor

At a backyard pool, particularly during a get-together, don’t assume someone is watching the kids. Get adults to take turns to actively supervise. Toddlers should be within arm’s reach of an adult, older children should have an adult within the water area ready to enter if needed.

Restrict access

At home, spas and backyard pools must be protected by a safety barrier.

Learn to resuscitate

Learn CPR and keep your skills updated. Place resuscitation posters in pool and spa areas.

Keep them water wise

Water awareness and swimming classes can help make children familiar with water and become confident swimmers.