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100-101 WORLD NEWS:SPN Master pages 15/1/09 17:01 Page 2
world news
Record high number of toddler drownings in private swimming pools has led
to authorities in South Africa and Australia tightening up on safety regulations
and calling on annual pool “audits”. New legislation could mean increased
costs for pool owners and more controls on swimming pool surrounds
Tougher legislation on safety measures is expected
to trigger heavy fines for pool owners
Swimming pools in Australia that do not meet safety standards
should be compulsorily upgraded when any property is sold, the
Royal Life Saving Society has urged. The view follows nationwide
publicity about the growing number of children in drowning
accidents at the start of the new season.
Swimming pool owners were reminded to be vigilant after the
drownings in accidents of three toddlers within a week.
Pools built before the 1992 Swimming Pool Act have never been
inspected by authorities. The change would improve the safety of
pools that have not been maintained, Richard Franklin, the society’s
national manager for research and health promotion, said.
The society said safety inspections should not be limited to new
South Africa prepares for
swimming pools and that the Government should enforce
inspections on existing pools.
new pool safety laws
It said non-compulsory backyard swimming pool inspections by
councils could lead to more toddler drownings.
Pool owners will have to face extra costs if proposed legislation on pool “I think it’s that the fence blends into the background and people
safety becomes law throughout South Africa. They could be forced either don’t think about needing to maintain it. The weakest part of the fence
to fence the area around the pool or install a high quality pool cover. is the gate, and that’s really how a lot of kids get into the pool area.”
If they don’t, they could be fined. And if a child drowns in an “illegal” The Chief Executive of Swim Australia, Ross Gage, said lives were
pool, the homeowner could be charged with culpable homicide. also at risk because there were not enough places at swimming classes.
A proposal has been sent to the South African Bureau of Standards A spokeswoman for the Minister for Local Government, Barbara
to force all pool owners to fence off or net their pools. Perry, said provisions on inspections and on penalties for non-
Drafted by the South African Emergency Service Institute, the compliance with fencing regulations were being examined in a
proposal comes in the wake of the shocking number of pool deaths review of the Swimming Pools Act.
in South Africa. Local councils have the power to inspect private swimming pools
In Johannesburg, nine children have drowned in the past month – for compliance with safety laws.
almost all in residential pools. Eight of those children were under But the Chief Executive of Royal Lifesaving Australia, Rob
five years of age. Bradley, is calling on governments to make safety inspections of
According to the ninth Annual Report of the National Injury private swimming pools by local councils compulsory.
Mortality Surveillance System released this year, the leading cause of “The inspection regime and penalties that currently exist are being
non-transport-related deaths in the 0-14 age group is drowning. considered as part of a review of the Swimming Pools Act,” he said.
The proposal was sent to the SABS, custodian of the National One Australian online pool supplies and pool equipment
Building Regulations, which specify pool safety. specialist,, said it wasn’t complicated to do
Currently, residential requirements stipulate that the pool must have more for children’s safety.
restricted access for the public. Tony Garis, a spokesman for swimming pool supplies company
“A wall around the property will not safeguard a child in the house., company said, “We are in the pool supplies
There needs to be something more,” said Marius Atterbury, a member business because we love to help people have fun in their pools.
of the South African Emergency Service Institute. The recent deaths of young kids drowning are maddening to us
The proposal is for the pool to have its own fence or cover, which because water and pool safety are not hard things to maintain.
will remain rigid if someone steps on it. In addition, they propose a “It’s a matter of people being conscious and aware that their
splash alarm that will signal as soon as someone falls in. pool gates are correctly closed and fitted with child proof, self
Swimming South Africa’s Learn to Swim Manager Easlyn Young closing gates and locks and making sure that there are no
agrees that residential pools are the major problem with drownings, as opportunities for kids to climb on to anything around the pool to
authorities hardly have any control at someone’s home pool. get over the fence. If children are small and you are not able to
She says Swimming SA are in talks with the Department of Education supervise them then they must be kept away from the pool area
about the training of educators at schools regarding water safety. altogether. This also means small blow up pools. Cover them up or
The NGO Swim Alive focuses on water safety through teaching empty them if they are easy to access.”
children emergency drill procedures and basic strokes.
100 swimming pool news FEBRUARY 09 Digital edition available at
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