West Aussies urged to use portable pools safely

15 November 2018

Royal Life Saving has partnered with the Department of Consumer Protection to encourage all West Australians to commit to safely using portable swimming pools this summer.

On average one child dies from a portable pool-related drowning every year in Australia, while others need hospital treatment and may be left with severe brain injuries. These statistics have prompted Australian Consumer Law and product safety regulators to join forces with Royal Life Saving to remind parents and carers to make portable pools SAFE.

Portable pools – ranging from small blow-up or plastic paddling or kiddie pools to bigger wading pools, inflatable spas or high-sided flexible plastic pools on a frame – can be popular in summer as a cheap alternative to below-ground pools BUT they’re just as dangerous. 

Royal Life Saving WA CEO, Peter Leaversuch says the recently released National Drowning Report for 2017-18 highlights the issue of portable pool drowning and who is most at risk. “Our statistics show there is one child fatality as a result of a portable pool drowning each year. The child is almost always under five-years-old and more likely to be male.”

“We don’t want any deaths or hospitalisations due to drowning this summer. Adults following the Don’t Duck Out, Make It SAFE tips that form part of this campaign, such as keeping constant watch of kids around portable pools, can reduce the risk and potentially save lives.”A rubber duck with the Don't Duck Out promotional message tied to it, sitting on the edge of a portable paddle pool

Commerce Minister Bill Johnson has supported today’s launch and says it’s important for consumers to realise that by law any pool that holds more than 30cm of water depth must be fenced. “Many people go into a shop, spend $500 on a portable pool and don’t realise that there are a whole series of regulations that come with that pool and so I’m very pleased that retailers are now going to provide point of sale information so that people are aware of the issues regarding these inflatable portable pools.”

The new campaign reminds consumers ‘Don’t Duck Out’ of the responsibilities you take on when you buy a portable pool, which may include putting up a safety barrier. Anyone thinking about purchasing a portable pool should take a few minutes to check out www.productsafety.gov.au/makeitsafe

Three years ago Melanie Mitchell’s son Lachlan drowned in a swimming pool while unsupervised in the backyard of a family daycare in Carramar. Melanie, who is a Keep Watch Drowning Prevention Ambassador for Royal Life Saving WA is supporting the current campaign surrounding portable pools.

“You must always supervise children around water and keep within arms reach when they are swimming. Make sure that you are outside with them whether they are swimming or not if there is any kind of pool. If you do have a portable pool, even if it’s just a toddler splash pool, make sure that you empty it after use. In this day and age of saving water that may seem like an illogical thing to do but I can tell you from someone who has lost a child to drowning the cost of water is nothing compared to going through the experience of drowning when it’s your child, whether its fatal or non-fatal.”

"As a community it’s also our job to make sure we’re looking out for each other and making sure that our yards are safe whether we have children or not. If you choose to have a pool, or live at a place where there is a pool then it’s your job to make sure that it is safe, that it’s fenced, if you have children learn CPR, make sure you get them into swimming lessons because although you hope they will never need it you want to make sure you give them the best chance of survival” says Melanie.

The SAFE message includes:

  • SUPERVISE - Actively watch children within arm’s reach. Don’t leave older children in charge. 
  • ACT - Learn emergency first aid including CPR. It’s important to start compressions and breaths as soon as possible when a child is pulled from the water and to call triple zero (000) for help. 
  • FENCE - In WA, and most of Australia, pools with more than 30cm of water in are legally required to have a compliant safety barrier. Check with your local Council. 
  • EMPTY and store safely - After keeping watch all day, pour out water and put the pool away where children can’t reach. Never leave it where it can refill with rain or sprinkler water. 

Under the Australian Consumer Law, portable pools and their packaging are required to have labels drawing the buyer’s attention to drowning risk, the need for active supervision, proper storage and local fencing laws. If you spot a portable pool without a warning label you should report that to Consumer Protection by emailing consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au.

For more information about Portable Pool Safety click the link below.

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