Play it safe in the pool this summer

Living Well | RACV | Posted on 24 November 2017

Are you familiar with the water safety tips you need to reduce the chance of a tragedy occurring?

The silent killer
Check pool barriers
No substitute for supervision
Water safety tips

The silent killer

“Childhood drowning happens quickly and silently – 20 seconds and a few centimetres of water is all it takes for a toddler to drown,” says Jason Chambers, General Manager at KidSafe Victoria.

According to data from the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia, 29 children aged 0-4 drowned in 2016-17. Almost half of these incidents occurred in backyard pools.

And for every drowning death of a child aged 0-4 in Victoria, there are a further 10 non-fatal incidents, some of which result in permanent injuries.

KidSafe Victoria is dedicated to preventing unintentional death, injury and associated disability to children. One of the organisation’s key areas of interest is water safety, and in October it launched a campaign about backyard pool safety called Safe Barriers Save Lives.

Jason explains that the campaign encourages people to check on the safety of their pool and spa barriers.

Beach ball in a pool

Check pool barriers

“While pool and spa barriers can be effective in reducing the risk of drowning incidents, evidence suggests that a large number of drowning deaths are the result of barriers that are faulty or non-compliant with Australian standards.”

In Victoria, all swimming pools and spas on residential properties with a depth greater than 30 centimetres must be surrounded by a safety barrier.

“Common faults or non-compliance issues that are important to check for include gates and doors that are no longer self-closing or latching and gates that are propped open,” says Jason.

KidSafe Victoria also recommends that items such as chairs or barbecues, which children could use to climb over a pool fence, be moved well away from the area.

No substitute for supervision

While it is vital that pool barriers are up to standard, there is no substitute for supervision when it comes to ensuring the safety of children around water.

“It is important that children are always actively supervised by an adult when in and around water to help keep them safe,” says Jason.

“For toddlers, this means an adult being within arm’s reach at all times.

“At family gatherings, a good idea is to have a designated supervisor.

“The summer holidays can be a hectic time with family and parties. It’s important that water safety isn’t forgotten about so that everyone can enjoy a safe and fun summer.”

Water safety tips

The Kids Alive – Do the Five water safety program recommends the following five steps to help reduce the risk of preschool drowning:

  • Fence the pool
  • Shut the gate
  • Teach your kids to swim – it’s great
  • Supervise – watch your mate
  • Learn how to resuscitate.

For more water safety tips, visit or

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