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''Pool Alone'' Policy Launched

“Pool Alone” Policy Launched

Media Release11/9/03

“Pool Alone” Policy Launched

A revised policy for caregiver supervision of young children at public swimming pools has just been launched at the New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) Just Add Water forum in Hanmer.

Children under 8 must be ACTIVELY SUPERVISED by a CAREGIVER 16 or over. ACTIVELY SUPERVISED means: Watching your child at all times. Able to provide immediate assistance.

Six young children aged 5 or less drowned in public pools between June 1999 and November 2002. This is considerably more than the average of 1 every two years between 1980 and 1999 and has led to the development of the new policy and a desire to better communicate supervision requirements and caregiver responsibilities.

NZRA, in conjunction with Water Safety New Zealand (WSNZ), have refined the existing policy over the past 18 months to increase the caregiver age requirement and provide a much-needed definition of supervision.

ACC is helping with funding the promotional material as an extension of the ACC PoolSafe Quality Management Scheme for public pools, which is managed by WSNZ and provides independent assessments of pool policy and procedures, including the Pool Alone policy.

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. 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. A lifeguard takes an overview of all pool users and is there to provide assistance when required. They can’t be expected to watch every single child every moment to ensure their ongoing safety”.

WSNZ executive director Alan Muir reinforced the need for this type of policy. “The initial Pool Alone policy was established in 1998 and was modelled on the Home Alone criteria. However pools and water are inherently dangerous environments and a review of the six drownings since June 1999 highlighted that lack of caregiver supervision was a common contributing factor in each of these drownings”.

ACC's General Manager of Injury Prevention, Darrin Goulding, said the new policy was one the corporation thoroughly endorsed.

“ACC and WSNZ have been working together for the past three years to reduce aquatic injuries and this has included pool safety initiatives," he said.

ACC have provided funding for the new signs which will be displayed in all public pools from this weekend and it will promote the new policy to caregivers and children.

A recent coroner's report on a case where a 4-year-old drowned at a public pool in Porirua recommended a review of the existing Pool Alone policy and better communication of the new policy to caregivers.

“This is hopefully going to be achieved through this launch and the prominent signs that have been developed,” Mr Goulding said.

The Just Add Water Forum is an annual conference for people involved in the public swimming pool industry. For the first time this year, two forum’s are being held with a North Island and South Island split. The first forum in Taupo in August attracted a record number of participants such was the interest in the Pool Alone policy revision and the quality of other topics on offer.

…Ends…

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