Is your pool still safe post summer?

I will always remember moving into my first home in South Penrith many years ago with fondness, however I was surprised that it had an unfenced backyard pool. It was so lovely to sit on the deck and drink cocktails in the summer, with no barrier to the water, our very own little resort style oasis — but as soon as I fell pregnant with our first child, that little slice of paradise suddenly became a death trap in my mind.

Since then, we have had the pool fenced, and make sure we maintain it. With summer drawing to an end but the weather tipped to be warm for many more weeks yet, I have to ask – is your pool and fence in tip top condition? Would they pass a compliance check? If the answer is no, you are risking much more than a fine – you are risking lives.

Did you know that all pools & spas (including portable and inflatable pools) containing more than 30cm of water are legally required to be registered on the NSW Swimming Pool register? Registration is free, but the fine for not doing so is $220, and fines of $550 apply if a pool is not completely surrounded by a compliant pool fence. And if you wish to lease or sell a property with a pool or spa, a Certificate of Compliance must be obtained from Penrith City Council or an independent assessor.

At our next house, three children later, I was really disappointed to notice that pretty soon after moving in the pool gate stopped closing automatically, and had to be repaired immediately, despite having just passed compliance. With 3 young children who spent the majority of their time playing outside in the backyard I dread to think what might have happened had we not noticed. It’s worth taking the time to regularly check fences and gates around the pool, and to make sure trees have not grown over the fence to aid climbing. Be vigilant.

Even with effective barriers in place, the importance of supervision cannot be overstated. Drowning remains the biggest cause of accidental death in children under 5, and in most cases these deaths can be directly attributed to a lack of supervision. Nothing is more important than supervising children around water -drowning is silent, and swift.

We know that kids are adventurous by nature – they love to climb and explore – and can often be found trying to climb the fence to retrieve a stray ball from the pool, or propping the pool gate open (rather than let it self-latch). Water safety lectures when seeing these behaviours often fall on the deaf ears of our little people, which only emphasises the importance of the other precautions being taken – barriers, supervision, learning to swim and knowing CPR for emergencies.

Stay safer everyone.