Push for pool owners to check gates
The first of December not only heralds the start to summer, it's also been declared 'National Check-Your-Pool-Gate Day', with pool owners urged to ensure the safety of their pool gates and stem the preventable flow of child drownings across Australia.
Spearheaded by child water safety advocate Laurie Lawrence and manufacturer of the MagnaLatch pool safety gate latch D&D Technologies, the campaign is in its second year.
According to Lawrence, 12 kids under the age of five lost their lives drowning in pools throughout 2017/2018, with hundreds more involved in non-fatal drowning incidents.
“Drowning is the second most common cause of accidental death in children in Australia.
“Kids gaining access to pools because of faulty gates is something that should not be happening. Pool owners need to check their fences, latches and hinges regularly, as a gate that is not self-closing and self-latching provides instant and often undetected access for toddlers to the pool area,” Lawrence said.
John Clark, Technical Director of D&D Technologies, said the company was a long-time partner of Laurie Lawrence’s KidsAlive water safety program, and last year launched National Check-Your-Pool-Gate Day with Laurie, to help curb childhood drownings caused by faulty pool gates.
“Australia has one of the highest pool-ownership rates per capita in the world, but the tragic fact is pool owners are not checking their pool gates and fences regularly.
“Statistically, gates are the weakest link. We’ve known this for a long time and that’s why we are so committed to helping pool owners get serious about gate maintenance.
“All it takes is a few minutes to check your pool fences and gates, including latches and hinges, are in good working order. This simple routine at the start of summer could save the life of a child,” Clark said.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said, National Check-Your-Pool-Gate Day was helping to raise further awareness about water safety for under-fives.
“The recent Royal Life Saving Australia National Drowning Report shows that children under five recorded the largest number of drowning deaths in swimming pools.
“This figure accounts for 36% of all swimming pool drowning deaths in 2017/18.
“We know that supervising kids and making sure fences and gates are secure are key to prevent drownings, and initiatives like National Check-Your-Pool-Gate Day are a reminder to parents and caregivers to stay vigilant and make sure their backyard is ready. Simple checks can ensure that children and adults are safer in the water this summer,” Hunt said.
Lawrence said pool gate latch devices were becoming increasingly sophisticated, with in-built electronic visual and audible alarms, like MagnaLatch ALERT, helping to notify pool owners whenever a gate is entered or exited, or left open and unlatched.
“This new technology is helping keep young children safer around pools and is a fantastic further precaution pool owners can take to improve the safety of their pool area, but it is never a replacement for regular fence inspection and maintenance or parent or carer vigilance,” Lawrence said.
MagnaLatch safety checklist for pool gates:
- Gate should open outwards, away from the pool.
- Latch release knob should be at least 1500 mm above ground level.
- Gate must be self-closing and self-latching.
- Gate hinges should be rust-free and bind-free.
- Gate should carry reliable, tension-adjustable hinges.
- Latch must be adjustable for height and width.
- Hinges must be adjustable for closing tension.
- Latch cannot be key locked in the ‘open’ position.
- Latch cannot be disengaged using implements.
- Gate latch cannot be shaken or jolted open.
- Gate will shut securely from any open angle or force.
- Gate complies with all Australian Standards for pool safety.
A full checklist can be downloaded here.
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