POOL owners are being urged to take extra precaution this summer so as not to repeat last year's statistics that saw a 30 per cent increase in drowning deaths across the country in the most vulnerable age group under-five.
The owner of Poolwerx Menai and Padstow, Shane Gobby and Chris Hartsenberg, said the Poolwerx Healthy Pools Survey revealed 40 per cent of Australians were not taking enough precautions to protect their family during the swimming season.
"Our results unfortunately show people are not doing annual safety checks of their pool area. Last year, 29 children aged 0-4 years drowned in Australia and 45 per cent of these drownings occurred in swimming pools," Mr Gobby said.
"Children most commonly gained access to the pool through a faulty fence or gate, a gate that was propped open or because there was no fence at all.
Mr Hartsenberg said pool owners must check the safety of their pool area regularly and ensure pool gates and fences are in good condition, including the gate's self-locking latch.
"It's also important that there are no objects or furniture surrounding the pool a child could use to gain access to the pool area," he said.
Founder of the Kids Alive Do The Five program, Laurie Lawrence, said he longed to see summer draw to a close with no drownings or near-drownings recorded.
"We are about to hit the peak drowning period in Australia, so now is the time for people to take stock and make sure their pool is safe," Laurie said.
Poolwerx Healthy Pools Survey also revealed 50 per cent of parents were not getting their children swimming lessons.
"Drownings are preventable if we all take ownership. I can't stress enough the importance of teaching your kids to swim from an early age. Arming young children with basic water safety skills will give them a fighting chance if they fall in by accident," Laurie said.
"It also gives parents vital seconds to respond – and mere seconds can make all the difference."
Laurie said when it comes to children under five, proper supervision was critical.
"Always keep your child within arm's reach in the pool. Remember that drownings often occur during parties and backyard barbeques in the summer months – don't let this happen to you," he said.
"Prevention is always better than cure.
"Remember the Five: Fence the pool, shut the gate, teach your kids to swim, supervise and as your insurance policy should the worst happen, learn how to resuscitate."
Mr Gobby and Mr Hartsenberg from Poolwerx said parents could download a special checklist at poolwerx.com.au to check their pool environment was as safe as possible, but there were a few simple steps he recommended to greatly improve pool safety in the backyard:
• Ensure the pool environment is safe
Ensuring your pool fence and gate are secure and meet government regulations. If unsure people should get a licensed pool inspector to conduct an audit.
• CPR Chart Displayed
Have a current state approved CPR chart available and displayed in clear sight.
• Safe zone around the pool
Ensure there is no furniture, or any apparatus children could use to enter a pool area unsupervised.
•'Unfun' the pool zone
Make sure all pool toys, games and floating equipment that would attract children are put away and out of sight.
• Investigate swimming lessons
Children should be taught to swim as early as possible and learn lifesaving water skills at all ages.
• Ensure the water is healthy.
Chlorine levels should remain at 2-3 PPM to disinfect all microorganisms that can cause health issues. Your pool's pH level should always remain between 7.2 and 7.6.