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Playing It Safe

Posted on Mar 13, 2016

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Is the latch on the gate to your swimming pool working properly? Are there any parts of the fence small children might crawl under?

Checking these and other aspects of a pool is one of the things New Zealanders can do to help children stay safe around pools.

Dr Felicity Dumble, chair of the Health Quality and Safety Commission’s Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee says pool drownings are highly preventable. “We encourage everyone to follow some routine fence checks and make sure anything that could allow inadvertent access is repaired.”

“Local councils can offer guidance on ensuring your pool meets all the safety regulations.”

Checks and other advice include:

  • Ensure the gate latch clicks shut automatically. Over time the spring can become less effective. Hold the gate open at varying distances from the lock and check it springs shut and fully latches
  • Ensure there are no gaps under the gate when it is closed and there is no part of the fence small children could crawl under (maximum permissible gap between ground and fence/gate is 100mm)
  • Never prop the gate open
  • Check the condition of a metal fence. The joints can become weak due to rust and have been known to come apart with a firm tug
  • Clear toys from the pool area so it is not tempting for children to go in.
  • Check the condition of a timber fence.  As the structure ages, the screws and nails can loosen and allow the slats to be removed. Similarly, the wood can age and weaken, so any rotting sections should be replaced
  • Always keep moveable objects (such as plastic chairs, bricks or pot plants) well away from the pool area. A child can drag them and then use them to climb over the fence
  • Remove any tree branches that could allow a child to gain access to the pool area
  • Local councils can offer guidance on ensuring your pool meets all the safety regulations. 

Further information is available at Water Safety New Zealand: www.watersafety.org.nz

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