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As the weather heats up, many families are looking forward to spending more time outdoors and around water. Consumer Protection wants to help keep children safe from risks.
So far this year, seven Australians have been killed riding quad bikes, which easily roll over when used on rough ground, at high speed or carrying heavy or uneven loads.
Since October 2021, all new and imported second hand quad bikes need to be fitted with operator protection devices and meet minimum stability requirements. They must also meet US and European standards and come with a tag so consumers can compare the safety of models prior to purchase.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe said, despite quad bikes being safer thanks to the new regulations, the safest option is to avoid letting children ride them altogether.
“Visiting a farm or a rural property during summer holidays can be an exciting experience for many children, however what may seem like a harmless ride on a quad bike can easily turn into an accident with tragic consequences,” Mr Newcombe said.
“Quad bikes have the unenviable title of being a leading cause of fatalities and serious injuries on Australian farms – since 2017, they have been responsible for a total of 71 deaths, 11 of which were children.*
“Due to their size and inexperience, children should never drive or be a passenger on quad bikes intended for adults, as they don’t have the physical or cognitive ability to safely operate these vehicles.”
There were also dangers closer to home during warm weather, particularly in the backyard and around swimming pools.
Figures from Royal Life Saving Australia show 339 people lost their lives to drowning across Australia in 2021-22, including 32 children under 14 years old.
“Up to 35 per cent of drowning deaths in children occurred in a swimming pool, so we want everyone to keep water safety front of mind,” said Mr Newcombe.
“There is no substitute for adult supervision, so parents and carers should keep constant watch. Flotation and aquatic toys are not safety devices, so never assume that children are out of harm’s way in the water while wearing them.”
“Make sure pool gates are self-closing and latches lock properly to prevent access when you’re not around. Never prop pool gates open and keep furniture and other large items well clear so children can’t use them to climb over.”
A popular alternative to in-ground pools are portable pools, but they can be just as dangerous.
“Portable pools might be a cheaper option than installing an in-ground pool, however many parents and carers may not realise the significant drowning risks and potential need for fencing if a portable pool contains more than 30 centimetres of water,” Mr Newcombe said.
“Anyone thinking about buying a portable pool should spend a few minutes checking out www.productsafety.gov.au/makeitsafe.”
Trampolines are often bought as Christmas gifts and can also be hazardous with hundreds of children hospitalised each year from accidents.
“Only allow one child to use a trampoline at a time and supervise their use. Put padding on the frame and remove any hazards located nearby,” Mr Newcombe said.
Button batteries in toys were another hazard when it came to toys being given as Christmas gifts.
“While Christmas shopping, be on the lookout for button batteries in children’s toys, as they are dangerous and potentially deadly when swallowed,” Mr Newcombe said.
“Every week around 20 Australian children present to an emergency department after swallowing a button battery, so it’s vital for parents check that button batteries are properly secured so they can’t be easily accessed or come loose when an item is dropped.
“When buying presents for young children, make sure toys are age-appropriate to help prevent injury and choking.”
*National quad bike fatality figures are recorded by Safe Work Australia."
For more consumer advice around summer activities, visit: www.productsafety.gov.au/safesummer
Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / email@example.com