Ten years of child deaths in swimming pools
29 Jul 2008
A new report tabled in NSW Parliament today that examines child deaths over a ten year period, has recommended that local authorities such as Councils be compelled to inspect and monitor swimming pools to determine if they comply with safety legislation.
The Trends in Child Deaths in NSW 1996-2005 report reveals that while child deaths overall have declined, this was not the case with rates of child deaths from drowning in a private swimming pool or spa, which have remained ‘effectively unchanged’.
Between 1996 to 2005, there were 245 children and young people who died as a result of drowning (3.5% of all deaths). 73 of the 245 drowned in private swimming pools or spas.
“Drowning in private swimming pools or spas are among the most straightforward to prevent,” said the NSW Commissioner for Children and Young People and Convenor of the Child Death Review Team, Ms Gillian Calvert.
“These figures are a red alert to the community that we need to take stronger and more effective action to help reduce child deaths from pool drowning.”
“Twenty-one of these child deaths occurred where a pool gate or latch was in a state of disrepair, in six instances the fence appeared inadequate but the child managed to breach it by moving objects to assist them in climbing over the fence while in at least three other deaths the pool gate had been left open.
“Adequate and well maintained pool fencing is only part of the story: without it young children are exposed to dangers they have no or limited capacity to judge.
“Pool fencing provides an environmental barrier but these figures reveal a persistent and alarmingly common pattern of younger children aged 1-4 years (53 of 58 deaths in this age group) accessing a pool without the knowledge of their parent or carer.
“Active adult supervision and active monitoring of compliance with the law on swimming pool fencing, is also needed.”
The Trends in Child Deaths in NSW 1996-2005 report recommends that under the NSW Swimming Pools Regulation 2008, local authorities are required to inspect all swimming pools notified within their area and monitor compliance with the legislation.
“This recommendation is a specific and achievable action that promotes the building and maintenance of fences with the aim of helping to reduce preventable child deaths,” Ms Calvert said.
Michelle Neathercote on 0413 456 080 or Bruce Williams on 0413 452 498