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Making a splash about portable pool safety

Tragically, on average one child dies from portable pool-related drowning each year in Australia and other kids need hospital treatment and may be left with severe brain injuries.

That’s why the Office of Fair Trading and the Royal Life Saving Society are reminding Queensland parents and carers to make portable pools S.A.F.E.

Commissioner for Fair Trading, Victoria Thomson said portable pools, from small blow-ups and plastic paddling pools through to inflatable spas and high-sided flexible plastic pools on a frame, are a popular, cheaper alternative to in-ground pools.

“However, many parents and carers do not realise the significant danger they bring to young children and the need for fencing,” Ms Thomson said.

“We’re reminding Queenslanders about the drowning risk associated with portable pools because the weather’s warming up and we know portable pools are often bought as a Christmas gift for the family to enjoy over summer”.

The Office of Fair Trading has continued its partnership with Royal Life Saving Society to run ‘Don’t Duck Out, Make It SAFE’, to educate consumers about the responsibilities you take on when you buy a portable pool, which may include putting up a safety fence.

The Royal Life Saving Society’s National Manager of Research and Policy, Alison Mahony, said the National Drowning Report highlights the issue of child drowning and who is most at risk.

“Statistics show an average of one child fatality as a result of a portable pool drowning each year. The child is almost always under the age of five and more likely to be male,” she said.

“Our aim is to avoid deaths or hospitalisations due to drowning this summer. Adults following the Don’t Duck Out, Make It SAFE tips, such as keeping constant watch of children around portable pools, can reduce the risk and potentially save lives.

“Anyone who is considering buying a portable pool should think carefully about the risks, and make sure it is used safely.

“Supervision is imperative so always keep a very close eye on children in or around portable pools as accidents can happen quickly and silently.”

Under the Australian Consumer Law, portable pools and their packaging must have labels drawing the buyer’s attention to drowning risk, the need for active supervision, proper storage and local fencing laws.

Suppliers of portable pools that do not comply with the mandatory standard can face hefty penalties. If you spot a portable pool without a warning label you should report it to the OFT at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.

More information on the ‘Don’t duck out. Make it SAFE’ campaign is available at www.productsafety.gov.au/makeitsafe.

Supervise. Actively watch children from within arm’s reach. Don’t leave older children in charge.

Act. Learn emergency response including CPR. It’s important to start compressions and breaths as soon as possible when a child is pulled from the water and to call triple zero (000) for help. If there are two people, one should make the phone call while the other does CPR.

Fence. In Queensland, if a pool has more than 30cm or 2,000L of water in it, there’s a legal requirement to have a compliant safety barrier. More information is available https://www.qld.gov.au/law/your-rights/legal-and-property-rights/laws-for-building-houses-and-pools/pool-fencing-and-safety-lawshere:

Empty and store safely. After keeping watch all day, pour away water and store the pool where children can’t reach. Never leave it where it can refill with rain or sprinkler water.