Under-fives are the most at risk for backyard drownings, with one in three (33%) parents admitting that a family member has had a near drowning experience involving a backyard pool. Despite this, a third (30%) of parents are only checking the safety of their pool area once a year or less.
Even with 82% of pool owners being aware that faulty or unlatched pool gates is the most common cause of unauthorised access by toddlers to the pool areas, research reveals parents are still not checking the safety of their pool area, fence and gate.
New research by D&D Technologies, the manufacturer of the Australian-made MagnaLatch®, reveals the main reasons parents of under-fives are not checking the pool area for safety include not knowing what parts of the pool area to check (19%), simply forgetting (18%), and not having enough time (10%).
Child water safety advocate Laurie Lawrence said he was shocked by the lack of diligence and urged all pool owners to check the safety of their pool gates during 'National Check Your Pool Gate Month' this December, as faulty pool gates and fences remain a leading cause of drownings in Aussie kids under five.
"We know that kids who drown most commonly gain access to the pool area through a faulty fence or gate and this is something that should not be happening.
"Pool owners need to check their fences, gates, latches and hinges regularly, as a gate that is not self-closing and self-latching provides instant and often undetected access for toddlers to the pool area," Laurie said.
Sadly, 12 Aussie children under the age of five lost their lives in swimming pool drownings in 2018/19 and this age group has accounted for almost half (42%) of non-fatal drownings events over the past 12 years.
John Clark, Technical Director of Australian company D&D Technologies, the manufacturer of the MagnaLatch® Pool Safety Gate Latch, said the company was a long-time partner of Laurie Lawrence's KidsAlive™ water safety program, and launched the 'Check Your Pool Gate' initiative with Laurie three years ago, to help eliminate childhood drownings caused by faulty pool gates.
John says, "We want to see a reduction in drownings this summer and it starts at home with safe backyards.
"Our recent survey of pool owners showed that one in five pool owners with kids under eleven had no idea what elements to check in their pool area to make it safe, and only 55% said they knew their pool gate complied with all Australian Standards.
"Our aim with 'National Check Your Pool Gate Month' is to educate pool owners about pool safety and to encourage them to check their pool surrounds not once a year, but regularly," says John.
John said it only took a few minutes for pool owners to check that their pool fences and gates, including latches and hinges, were in good working order. This simple routine done regularly could save the life of a child.
"Alarmingly, our survey revealed that one in three pool owners don't check the safety of their pool area because they don't have small children.
"All pool owners are responsible for ensuring that no child has access to their pool, as it only takes seconds for a child to wander into a pool area and the consequences can be tragic," says John.
Pool owners are urged to download a checklist at www.checkyourpoolgate.com.au or attend an educational session at select Bunnings Hardware stores during National Check Your Pool Gate Month this December, to understand how to check the safety of their pool surrounds and how to install the safest pool fence and gate equipment.