Commissioner's Blog: Don’t duck out – make portable pools safe
Many of us have fond memories of splashing around in a portable pool as a child and, as the weather warms up, we’ve launched a campaign to remind parents and carers to make these pools safe.
Portable pools – ranging from small blow-up or plastic paddling or kiddie pools to bigger wading pools, inflatable spas or high-sided flexible plastic pools on a frame – can be popular in summer as a cheap alternative to below-ground pools but they are just as dangerous.
On average one child dies from a portable pool-related drowning every year in Australia, while others need hospital treatment, may be left with severe brain injuries and limited life expectancy. For example a toddler who drowned in a portable pool in Noranda in 2015 sadly passed away two years later.
Drowning statistics have prompted Australian Consumer Law and product safety regulators to join forces with the Royal Life Saving Society to spread water safety messages.
We partnered with Royal Life Saving in 2014/15 to run a campaign called ‘Make It Safe’ and now we’ve added the reminder of ‘Don’t Duck Out’ of the responsibilities you take on when you buy a portable pool which may include putting up a safety barrier.
Adults following the Don’t Duck Out, Make It SAFE tips, such as keeping constant watch of kids around portable pools, can reduce the risk and potentially save lives. The SAFE tips are to:
- Supervise - actively watch children within arm’s reach. Don’t leave older children in charge.
- Act - learn emergency first aid 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 WA, and most of Australia, pools with more than 30cm of water in, are legally required to have a compliant safety barrier and could be fined or prosecuted if you don’t. Check with your local Council.
- Empty and store safely - after keeping watch all day, pour out water and put the pool away where children can’t reach. Never leave it where it can refill with rain or sprinkler water.
As part of the campaign, we’ve been working with major retailers who will also be helping to spread the Don’t Duck Out, Make It SAFE message at the point of sale. Under the Australian Consumer Law, portable pools and their packaging are required to have labels drawing the buyer’s attention to drowning risk, the need for active supervision, proper storage and local fencing laws.
Anyone thinking about purchasing a portable pool should take a few minutes to check out the campaign website at www.productsafety.gov.au/makeitsafe for more information. If you spot a portable pool without a warning label you should report that to Consumer Protection by emailing email@example.com or you can call 1300 304 054.