Macarthur pool expert issues warning after spate of drownings

Responsible play: Keep an eye on kids around water this summer. Picture: Peter Braig
Responsible play: Keep an eye on kids around water this summer. Picture: Peter Braig

More than 50 Australians have lost their lives in drowning incidents over the summer period and a Macarthur pool expert wants to ensure locals stay safe during the swimming season.

The Royal Life Saving drowning toll shows 56 people died this summer due to drowning incidents as of January 10, 2019, compared to 40 during that period this time last year.

As Macarthur residents get ready to celebrate Australia Day, pool safety experts are calling on party organisers to nominate a “responsible pool person” to watch over swimmers in backyard pools.

Poolwerx Narellan, Camden and Ambarvale owner Brian Lamarre said 12 per cent of drowning deaths this summer had occurred in backyard or public pools.

He said nominating a designated adult to supervise swimmers was one of the safest ways to avert tragedy.

“Kids, in particular, can get themselves into trouble very quickly in pools and with so much going on at parties, it’s not good enough to just expect that someone will be keeping an eye on swimmers – you need to have formally nominated a responsible adult,” Mr Lamarre said.

Water safety advocate and Kids Alive – Do the Five founder, Laurie Lawrence said recent research into private pool drowning deaths in children under five showed that supervision was completely absent in 64 per cent of drowning deaths, while a further six per cent of children were left to be supervised by siblings or other children.

“It is absolutely vital that kids are supervised at all times, including at parties,” he said.

“It is important that those supervising know how to perform CPR in the case of an emergency, as a child is four times more likely to survive if given CPR.

“Poolwerx has created the concept of nominating a responsible pool person for parties to ensure safety is a priority and that someone is dedicated to supervision and not distracted at a party.” 

Mr Lamarre said pool owners should also be regularly checking access points to pools, including pool fences, gates, latches and areas where a child could gain access to the pool area via furniture or objects that had been left sitting near or against the pool fence or gate.

“Research shows that in the majority of cases, children under five who drowned in backyard pools gained access to the pool via a faulty fence or gate, a lack of a pool fence or because the gate had been propped open,” he said.

“This is an absolute tragedy when you realise that so many drowning deaths are preventable if pool owners simply check their pool surrounds on a regular basis and make sure kids are supervised.” 

Macarthur pool owners can visit their local Poolwerx store to receive a free ‘responsible pool person’ hat that their nominated swimming supervisor can wear throughout the day.