Summer is coming. It seems like they just left, but the warmer months will soon be upon us, and nothing goes better with the Australian summer than the backyard pool. The kids are on holidays, dadís breaking out the barbeque, and someone has to fish out all the dead leaves and unidentified mulch thatís collected on the bottom of the pool over winter.
Pools are a great escape from the heat, but itís important to remember that they can be dangerous as well, especially for young children. After forgetting about it for the last few months, itís time to brush away the cobwebs and refresh our memories on proper pool safety.
Kids are adventurous. Theyíre curious. They want to explore. The problem is often they want to explore inside the pool fence, where they might have been attracted by enticing looking pool toys, or just the desire to get somewhere they know they shouldnít be.
Put yourself in a childís shoes; how would you go about breaking into a pool area? The pool fence is the biggest obstacle. The most obvious thing to try is the gate. A properly childproofed gate will be self closing with a powerful magnetic latch. You pull your hardest, but the gate stays closed. Thwarted. Climbing is the next logical way over. The fence has been built to a regulation 1200mm high - too high to jump. Unfortunately for you, the prospective climber, this fence has been built with no helpful handholds. Glass fences are especially difficult to circumvent; you just go sliding right back down again.
This is going to take some thinking about. For the moment you take a step back, observing the fence, looking for weaknesses. You spot a raised garden at the far end of the pool. The fence is still 1200mm above the garden bed, but you notice something interesting. You climb up on the garden bed for a closer look. The fence is raised from the ground 1200mm, however from your heightened position on the garden bed you can reach over to the lower part of the fence, and with a bit of maneuvering, be sitting on top of it in moments. From there it's a simple matter of clambering down the other side, into the pool area itself. Youíre in.
It can be as deceptively easy as this for a child to get into a superficially secure pool area. Donít just make sure your pool complies with the basic guidelines; take common sense into account and make modifications where you think they might be necessary. Over winter, when the pool can be largely forgotten about, itís important not to let absentmindedness take over. Make sure climbable objects arenít left near the fence or gate and be sure to move any maintenance equipment as soon as youíve finished using it.
Quick check list:
Ensure fence is a least 1200mm high at all spots.
Ensure gate is self-closing with a magnetic latch.
Donít leave climbable objects near pool fences.
Remove toys from pool area so as not to attract childrenís attention.
The unexpected can and does happen though, so to be safe thereís one precaution every parent should take with their child to ensure their safety around water. Swimming lessons. A competent swimmer is immeasurably safer around a pool than an incompetent one, so get your child started early and set them on a path to becoming a strong swimmer.
Prevention is better than a cure, but if the worst does occur itís best to be ready to deal with the situation. First aid courses are available cheaply and easily from a variety of locations around major cities and towns. These courses will teach you all the necessary skills you need to deal with a situation that may arise.
With summer closing in, thousands of Australians will be revelling in the escape the backyard pool provides. All it takes is a few common sense precautions to make sure the pool remains a blessed escape from the heat rather than a danger.
Written by Home and Outdoor Products. For all pool saftey eqipment and other pool products visit us.