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West Wave welcomes new “Pool Alone” policy

West Wave welcomes new “Pool Alone” policy

A new policy redefining the responsibility caregivers have for under-eights swimming in public pools has been welcomed by Waitakere City’s West Wave Aquatic Centre.

Launched by the New Zealand Recreation Association and Water Safety New Zealand, the new “Pool Alone” policy raises the age of the caregiver from 14 to 16 years and states that they must now watch their children at all times and be close enough to provide immediate assistance.

West Wave Manager, Ben Davies, says West Wave fully supports the thrust of the policy, with staff having had direct input into its development. The policy was implemented at the pool last week and formal signage erected.

Development of the new policy and a desire to better communicate supervision requirements and caregiver responsibilities was sparked by a marked increase in the number of young children drowning in public pools. Six children aged under six drowned in public pools between June 1999 and November 2002 - considerably more than the average of one every two years between 1980 and 1999. NZRA president, Nigel Cass, says the revised policy is long overdue.

"Pool lifeguards across the country are constantly having to deal with cases where young children are dropped off at pools and left to fend for themselves, or caregivers who are supposed to be looking after young children are busy doing their own thing,” he says.

“Supervision of young children is a shared responsibility for all of the community and lifeguards play an important role in this. However, the end responsibility, and greatest overall impact if something does go wrong, lies with the caregiver.”

WSNZ executive director, Alan Muir, reinforces the need for this type of policy: “Pools and water are inherently dangerous environments and a review of the six child drownings since June 1999 highlighted that lack of caregiver supervision was a common contributing factor.”

Waitakere City Council’s Child and Youth Advocate, Councillor Brenda Brady, says the Council fully supports the move to increase the age of caregivers at public pools.

“While West Wave always has lifeguards on duty, it is the ultimate responsibility of parents or caregivers to ensure their child is supervised at all times – and the new policy clarifies this. It also recognises that a 16-year-old is likely to be more mature and better able to take on the responsibility of looking after young children at pools.”

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