Commissioner's Blog: Keep summer safe and avoid holiday hazards
With Acting Consumer Protection Commissioner David Hillyard
Summer is upon us, school's out and thousands of families will be taking time out to go on holidays. While we want everyone to relax and have fun, we also want the holiday to be safe, particularly for children.
If you have booked short-stay accommodation, we have a list of safety checks you should carry out as soon as you arrive.
We prefer parents to avoid accommodation with bunk beds, but if you have no choice then make sure the top bunk has a guardrail, there are no gaps that could trap a child’s head, the ladder is secure and ceiling fans are at least two metres from the top bunk.
If you are hiring a cot, it must comply with the Australian standard where the sides and ends are fully locked while the cot is in use. Older style cots may not comply with more recent safety regulations creating risks of entrapment and suffocation.
Curtain and blind cords can and do kill children by posing a serious strangulation hazard. Tragic accidents can be avoided if the cords are more than 1.6 metres from the floor and secured to the wall with a cleat or tensioning device. Check to make sure there are no long, loose cords and that couches, beds and cots are not close enough to the cord for young children to reach it.
Any pool with water deeper than 30 centimetres must be fenced and have a self-closing, self-latching gate. Many drownings have occurred when gates have been left propped open or objects that can be climbed on left near the fence, so check that these hazards don’t exist.
Portable pools pose a serious drowning risk even though they do not need to be fenced off. Empty portable pools after use and store them away securely. Leaving them out where they can fill up with rain or sprinkler water could prove to be a fatal mistake.
Flotation devices should not be seen as a replacement for adult supervision. Armbands, rubber rings or floating mattresses are made of materials that can perish in the sun or be burst by a sharp object, meaning they can deflate unexpectedly.
If the accommodation has a spa, children should be closely supervised at all times. Don’t allow them to put their head underwater as their hair can get caught in the filter and there is a serious risk of drowning.
There have also been numerous injuries and deaths caused by heavy furniture toppling onto children, so don’t allow children to climb onto furniture such as chest of drawers, cabinets or television units. Check the furniture is secure and don’t place any items on top of the furniture that might tempt children to try to climb to reach the top of it.
If the property has a balcony, keep outdoor furniture away from the edge and ensure children do not climb on the balcony furniture or railings.
These are simple rules that can ensure your holiday remains enjoyable and everyone returns home safe. Further safety advice is available at www.productsafety.gov.au. Contact Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to report an unsafe situation at any accommodation premises that causes concern.
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