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Pool protocol protection

Online since 2.10.2014 • Filed under Education • From Issue Three - October - December 2014 page(s) 71-72
Pool protocol protection

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in children under the age of five, third only to car accidents and burns. While a swimming pool is a wonderful way for a family to socialise and relax, there is always an inherent danger.

All pool owners are responsible for ensuring that their swimming pools are safely secured to prevent accidents. This can be done by using a safety net, a pool fence or a pool cover to prevent children from gaining access to a pool without adult supervision. Each option has its pros and cons.

The pool safety net

First invented 42 years ago in Zimbabwe, the swimming pool safety net has saved countless lives. It is a simple, cost effective way to secure a swimming pool, while not detracting from the pool’s aesthetics and still allowing a view of the water. Safety nets have developed over the years and are generally fitted with a central tension system and float that assist the user to fit and remove the net with minimal effort. These nets can be operated by one person and shouldn’t take more than three minutes to remove and just five minutes to replace for an average size pool. They offer an exceptional degree of safety and, in over 40 years, no reports of drowning where safety nets are installed have been reported. A safety net is a versatile option that can be custom fitted to any pool size or shape. It is designed with an open mesh so that crawling babies or toddlers are supported off the water on the netting should they fall into the pool. Their arms and legs become entrapped in the netting, preventing forward movement on the net. It is uncomfortable and will usually result in the child crying and alerting an adult’s attention. A crawling baby will be suspended off the water. As children get older, heavier and more mobile, they may come into contact with the water but will be able to push themselves up and away from the water. Safety nets have an expected lifespan of six to eight years in the sun. They are the most costeffective way of securing a swimming pool and have an excellent track record in drowning prevention.

Pool safety covers

Another option for securing your pool is the solid safety cover. This cover is manufactured from PVC and supported in place by poles at regular intervals across the pool. The solid safety cover uses minimal fittings and attachments and is ratcheted into place and kept under tension. Designed to support the weight of two adults and a child, it also helps keep the pool clean and free of leaves and debris, reduces water evaporation and chemical use. The solid safety cover is not as versatile as the safety net and can only be used on certain pool shapes and sizes. It’s also heavy and requires two people to fit and remove it. However, it does provide a high degree of safety and there are fewer fittings and components attached to the paving. It also offers more functionality in that it helps reduce maintenance and running costs. A solid safety cover is more expensive than a safety net and its life spans four to five years. The solid safety cover is another excellent way to secure a pool.

Pool fencing

The third option is a pool fence. Pool fencing is traditionally made using galvanised steel, with alternatives now made from fabric, wood, plastic and glass – all of which need be erected to a minimum height of 1.2m, with no means for a child to climb over or under the fence. It should be a smooth vertical surface, secured into the ground, and the gate must be lockable and self-closing. Pool fencing provides a means to secure the area that a pool is in rather than the pool itself. Many people feel that a fence provides a higher degree of safety than a net, but many drownings still happen in pools that are fenced. The main benefit of a pool fence is that there is no fitting or removal required to access the pool. As with all the safety products available, pool fencing requires regular maintenance but, depending on the material used in its construction, should last in excess of 10 years.

Adult supervision is essential

It is important to always remember that any safety product is a back-up only to adult supervision. When in use, a safety net or cover offers the best levels of protection. When off the pool, users are generally aware and take greater steps to monitor and supervise children in their care. The cover or net is replaced once the pool is vacated. Fencing offers a more constant security system but can result in a false sense of security. A child may access the pool area through an unlocked or open gate, or climb over or under the fence. A layered approach to safety is key, and implementing at least two safety measures to protect the pool is ideal. Constant supervision and a pool cover or safety net, door locks, a fence and a door or gate alarm should all be considered.

Drowing – a silent killer

A safety net or any pool cover can never be a substitute for adult supervision. It is there to provide a last line of safety should a child wander off unsupervised. It only takes seconds for a child to drown. Drowning is a silent killer. In 2012 in South Africa, Netcare reported that it attended to 218 drownings or near drownings. This statistic is from just one emergency response operator. NGO, Childsafe, reports that 326 children drown every year because of a lack of vigilance, and the Medical Research Council has released statistics that over 3 000 people died from drowning in the last five years – this is more than one death by drowning every day of the year. A decision taken to secure a swimming pool is a decision taken to protect a child’s life. For a free quote or advice about securing your pool, contact Aqua-Net on 0860-AQUANET

Issue Three - October - December 2014

Issue Three - October - December 2014

This article was featured on page 71-72 of Babys and Beyond Issue Three - October - December 2014 .

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