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Make sure your swimming pool is safe

Drowning is silent: make sure your swimming pool is safe

2 October 2008

Most young children drown silently, with no screaming or splashing – and often that drowning takes place in the family swimming pool.

This chilling information from water safety research underlines the need for pools to be completely surrounded by a child-proof fence which prevents access from the house or yard.

North Shore City Council environmental protection team leader Warwick Robertson says that about five young children drown in family swimming pools and spa pools each year – and another 40 suffer permanent brain damage as a result of a near-drowning.

Even the most vigilant families can lose a child - most children who drown are out of sight of their caregivers for only a moment.

Government regulations around pool fencing are quite complex, says Mr Robertson. “The best idea is to contact the council and discuss your particular situation.”

The main aim, he says, is to prevent needless pool-related injury or loss of life.

“Nothing can describe the heartbreak of losing a child. Every child swimming pool drowning is one too many, and it is the responsibility of every family to work with the council to ensure that their house and section are as safe as possible.”

Especially at this time of year when pools are being filled and families spend more time outside, there is a risk of pool accidents.

A wet winter can cause gates to stick or not close properly, adding to the danger.

The North Shore City Council inspects every household pool every three years to ensure that they comply with Government safety requirements. All new pools require a council consent.

The first three yearly re-inspection will be free of charge. If the pool is non-complying then a fee of $90.00 will be charged for each subsequent inspection.

Should a pool’s fencing not comply with the first inspection, the owner will be sent a notice through the mail, explaining the areas of concern, and how to rectify the faults.

These requirements will then be followed up by the council.

There is a checklist of pool fencing requirements on the council website www.northshorecity.govt.nz

ENDS

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