A recent South Gippsland Shire Council audit has found that no pool or spa complied with council regulations, heightening fears of drownings as summer approaches.
Families are being urged to ensure their pools and spas are safe before summer to avoid a tragedy occurring.
Royal Life Saving found that 28 children under five died by drowning across Australia in the past year and that 85 per cent of Australian pools do not satisfy regulations.
Council’s director of development services Phil Stone said the results showed an urgent need for action.
“While the initial result was shocking, it probably was not surprising,” he said.
Council officers across Victoria find many pools without proper fences, while in other cases non-compliance issues are minor.
“It may be that a latch is not working properly or there is something near the pool that gives child access to it,” Mr Stone said.
“We find the general public are keen to receive the advice and fix up their pool or spa.”
In the most extreme cases, pools and spas are not fenced, and in some cases, a barbecue may be near the pool fence, enabling a toddler to climb over the fence.
Wear and tear, storm damage or erosion may create weakness in pool fences and gates.
Mr Stone said parents must undertake prevention measures.
“My message to the community would be that if they have any concerns that their pool or spa fences are not up to speed, to seek some advice from someone reputable in the fencing industry or building industry, because no one wants a tragedy to happen in their pool,” he said.
In Bass Coast Shire, council has issued 204 permits for pools since 2006, with 23 so far this year.
Council implemented a pool safety audit program this year that has shown minor compliance issues, council spokesperson Melissa Hayes said.
“Council’s experience is that once people are made aware of a of non-compliance issue, they are very co-operative about making required changes,” she said.
“An increasing problem is the proliferation of small portable and inflatable pools sold by chain stores, as they require compliant pool safety barriers when they hold water more than 300mm deep, which is often not realised by the purchasers of such pools.”
Royal Life Saving figures showed that about 60 per cent of toddler drowning occurs in the child’s own home. About 32 per cent are two-years-old and 26 per cent one-year-olds.
CEO of Royal Life Saving Rob Bradley said tens of thousands of pools across the nation are potential death traps.
Mr Bradley said that for every drowning death, there are about three hospitalisations and up to two of those hospitalised children will suffer a permanent brain injury.
The statistics show the most common location where drowning happens for children under five is the home pool or spa.
Mr Bradley said nearly 40 per cent of all toddler drownings happen between 9am and 3pm. A further 37 per cent occur between 3pm and 6pm, when parents can be distracted by household duties or as other children arrive home from school.
“The time for action is now. There are way too many people saying ‘I’ll get around to checking the fence sometime’. Check it now,” he said.
“It’s extremely frustrating to have home pool owners sometimes question the need for a pool fence.
“You have to have a pool fence by law and it has to meet strict safety requirements. All pools have to be fenced in Australia – in every state and territory. There are heavy penalties if you don’t comply.”
That’s why a fence must be installed and it must meet Australian Standard 1926.
Royal Life Saving has developed two websites that give people resources and tips to help them make a difference: www.homepoolsafety.com.au and www.keepwatch.com.au
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