Despite child drownings occurring weekly in national swimming pools across South Africa, parents should be reminded to make drowning prevention a clear priority during the festive season, according to PowerPlastics Pool Covers, a leader in the swimming pool safety industry.
“A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a child aged four and under. Moreover, for every child who dies, five suffer brain damage. The sad reality is that many parents still view swimming as a social skill, not a life skill. It takes a fundamental change of mind and consistent education if we are to reduce these statistics,” says Carolyn Idas of PowerPlastics Pool Covers.
Swimming Pool Safety Regulations in South Africa
At present, pool owners are held responsible for pool safety and any failure to do so and negligence in this regard could result in legal action. Interestingly, in 1977 there was a national SA standard (SANS 10134) which dealt with safety around swimming pools and at this stage the legislation protected children. However, this standard is now dated, so the next step is to update it and incorporate it meaningfully into the National Building Act or SANS 10400.
These committees have important work to do and their ultimate task is to protect children from drowning. There is no doubt that the longer it takes to update the standard, the more children will drown.
While one would think that swimming pool owners and the swimming pool industry would have embraced safety around swimming pools as part of their responsibility, this has not always been the case, hence the need for adopt national standards.
With the right safety devices, drownings can be avoided
“Drownings are entirely preventable with the right combination of pool safety devices, proper swimming skills and responsible parenting in the form of vigilant adult supervision around swimming pools. In most developed countries, pool safety has long been a legislative issue where the pool industry works with owners to ensure that safety measures are present on the pools they install. So far, South Africa has been lagging behind, and if a pool has indeed been secured, it is by being a responsible pool owner, not because of a formal directive. France is a particularly good example of how pool safety legislation and education can be rolled out effectively,” says Idas.
There are many different ways to secure a swimming pool, but long considered the best layer of safety, the PowerPlastics Solid Safety Cover is a strong PVC cover that meets international safety standards with a weight tolerance of 175 kg. While other devices such as netting and fencing always leave pool water exposed, PowerPlastics Pool Covers strong safety cover restricts all access and provides an impenetrable barrier above the water, with holes to prevent rain or sprinkler water from forming a small pool above the cover – something that poses a drowning hazard. This cover is simple and quick to use as it is. In addition, as the water is fully covered, savings can be made on water, electricity and chemicals, which also makes it an environmentally friendly solution.
Investing in pool safety equipment is a must
Local pool builder Horizon Pools admits that when selling a pool, many pool builders tend not to prioritize pool safety. “Swimming pool builders, in general, tend to only talk about pool safety when asked by the customer – it’s not something that is usually brought to their attention at the point of sale,” says John Jager from Horizon Pools. “I’ve also noticed that swimming pool safety is often a ‘semi spiteful’ purchase. Customers see pool safety as;
- An additional cost
- Something that detracts from the visual appeal of the pool and
- A hassle to put on and take off.
Nobody really thinks they’d rather take a risk and have someone drown, but the seriousness of pool safety during the sales pitch is dominated by the excitement of getting the pool built. I hope that with consistent training pool builders will also take a more proactive stance on pool safety,” says Jager. PowerPlastics pool covers highlight the huge gaps in safety in other industries.
“The automotive industry is not allowed to manufacture vehicles without seat belts and the chemical industry cannot be negligent with hazardous substances either. Parents should be aware that open swimming pools are just as dangerous “It’s kind of like letting your little one play by a bonfire! I’d also like to see mandatory health warnings on every pool product, much like those found on cigarettes,” says Idas.
Falling infant mortality rates
When pool safety regulations were first introduced a few years ago, public outcry highlighted the need for a public platform from which to comment on pool safety and better understand the issue. As a safety advocate and thought leader in the industry, PowerPlastics Pool Covers has launched www.topstep.co.za, the home of swimming pool safety, a non-commercial educational blog that aims to reduce the rates of infant mortality in home swimming pools through education and awareness raising on home water safety. .
The blog, www.topstep.co.za offers tips, medical advice and industry information. It also explores some common myths around drowning and how it is often distorted in the media.
“Many tragedies occur because people nearby think they know what a drowning is in progress – screaming for help, struggling in the water, waving for help, etc. In reality, drowning is quick The child shows no signs of a violent struggle and remains upright in the water, often giving the impression that he is just walking on water or dog-paddling,” explains ldas.
“Another myth is that only unsupervised children drown, while most drownings occur within 25 meters of an adult. A few swimming lessons won’t save a child from drowning either.