National – Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
Drowning prevention advocates Royal Life Saving Society – Australia are being caused great concern this summer due to the increasing availability of portable swimming pools.
Royal Life Saving Society – Australia CEO Justin Scarr says “Portable pools, commonly also known as paddling pools, wading pools, inflatable pools, pose a serious drowning risk to young children and people need to be aware of this before they purchase or use one this Christmas.”
To combat this risk, Royal Life Saving and consumer affairs agencies around Australia have collaborated on a portable swimming pool safety campaign. Called “Make It Safe” the campaign aims to educate consumers on the risks of owning a portable pool and encouraging five simple safety steps to reduce the risks. People are urged to visit www.royallifesaving.com.au/makeitsafe for handy tips and resources.
Children drown in portable pools every year in Australia. Many more children are hospitalised as a result of a drowning incident in a portable swimming pool. Those most at risk are children under three years of age and almost two thirds of those who have drowned are males.
Justin Scarr says “What’s extremely concerning to Royal Life Saving is that most people may not be aware of the legal requirement in most States and Territories to fence a pool deeper than 300mm (including portable pools). With Christmas and the Summer holidays fast approaching, we urge people to think carefully about their purchase and consider: how can I Make It Safe?”
In compliance activities undertaken by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and state and territory consumer protection agencies, compliance with the mandatory safety standard had increased considerably from levels measured at the introduction of the mandatory standard in March this year, to more than 83 per cent of products now being found compliant.
The ACCC and state and territory consumer protection agencies will continue to monitor compliance. Suppliers of non-compliant portable pools can face hefty penalties including court enforced undertakings and fines of up to $1.1 million for companies.
ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard says “It is encouraging to see an improvement in compliance with the mandatory standard, as the labelling required under the standard alerts consumers to information on active supervision, safe storage and state and territory pool fencing laws.”
Delia Rickard says “Child drowning is silent and can happen very quickly – and young kids can easily topple and fall by accident.”
Radio Community Service Announcement (CSA)
As part of this campaign, a Radio Community Service Announcement has been developed for Radio Stations across Australia to promote the important Portable Pool Safety Messages. If you want to use the recorded CSA or Script please use the links below to download to help us promote this important message.
“Daddy, Mia is sleeping in the pool”
Six years on Natasha Hadley is still haunted by the day her daughter Mia nearly drowned in 30 centimetres of water. The children’s father, Glen was sitting by the portable pool while his two kids were playing. Glen was momentarily distracted on the phone when Patrick (who was four at the time) came up to him and said “Daddy, Mia is sleeping in the pool.” Having retrieved his lifeless daughter from the pool, Glen screamed hysterically “Call an ambulance!”
“She was lifeless and blue. I had a first aid certificate but couldn’t even give the ambulance my address I was so shaken. At that immediate moment, I just kept screaming ‘She’s got to breathe’ ” Natasha said.
Glen was able to revive Mia after four minutes of CPR, before the ambulance arrived and stabilised her. Natasha, still in shock was trying to come to terms with what happened “I just kept saying to the ambulance driver – I can’t understand how a 2 and a half year old can drown in a foot of water.”
Children drown in portable pools every year in Australia. Many more are hospitalised as a result of a drowning incident in a portable pool. Those most at risk are children under three years of age and almost two thirds of those who drowned are males. Drowning happens quickly, especially in young children as it’s a silent event. Children don’t splash or call out for help. “To parents that are supervising their kids, don’t take your mobile outside, spend that time 100% focused on your kids. It only takes a second, a split second where you can lose something so precious,” Natasha said.
Young children are particularly vulnerable to drowning as they are attracted to water and their top heavy build means they can topple into water easily. They lack the knowledge to recognise risk and the skills and coordination to get themselves out of trouble, making even the shallowest of water a potentially life threatening situation. “Just because your two year old is walking and talking and able to drink out of a cup doesn’t mean they know how to get themselves out of that situation,” Natasha says.
Royal Life Saving, in partnership with Commonwealth, State and Territory consumer affairs agencies are launching the “Make it Safe” campaign. The campaign aims to educate parents about the risks of owning a portable pool and promote five simple safety steps:
- Check with your local council regarding fencing requirements.
- Ensure you always actively supervise children within arms’ reach whenever they are in, or around the water.
- Never rely on older children to supervise younger children, no matter how confident you are about their ability to supervise the younger child.
- For smaller pools – ensure you empty them and put them away when you are finished with them.
- Always store portable pools safely away from young children. Ensure the pool cannot fill with rain water or water from sprinklers.
Media enquiries to Media Key on 03 9769 6488
ACCC media team: Media team - 1300 138 917
A range of Royal Life Saving personnel - including Justin Scarr CEO and Amy Peden, National Manager – Research & Policy who coordinated the report - are available to talk about this report as well as State/Territory representatives.