Pool Safety Tips

In the time it takes to pour a drink, a child can drown. Herewith some tips that every parent and pool owner should take note of and keep handy.
  1. If you have a pool or water feature, get a safety cover fitted by a reputable supplier. Don’t secure a pool then ignore a pond or fountain! Check the cover’s fastenings regularly and replace as soon as they weather or break – they are crucial to the effectiveness of such covers.

  2.  If your children visit friends whose pools are not secure, urge the parent to fit a safety pool cover.

  3. Check the weight tolerance of any safety cover you purchase. (For example the PowerPlastics Pool Covers Solid Safety Cover bears the weight of two adults and a child).

  4. As soon as a child is found in a pool, start CPR and do not stop before emergency services arrive on the scene. It can make the difference between a full recovery, brain damage and death.

  5. Ensure that every adult in the home knows CPR, including domestic workers. Never hire a baby sitter or au pair who can’t swim.

  6. Thermal pool covers and leaf nets are never to be considered a safe barrier for children.

  7. Don’t leave toys in or near a pool, children will be tempted to retrieve them.

  8. Teach your child what to do if they see another child in trouble – to call for help and not to try help the victim themselves as this could put him/her at risk too.

  9. Never leave a child unattended near a pool. Take a cordless phone outside in case you get a phone call, or let the call go answered.

  10. If you’re pregnant, order your safety pool cover now, you’ll have enough to worry about after the birth.

  11. Teach your child to swim fully clothed and with shoes on.

  12. Choose a swimming coach wisely. If you’re not comfortable with techniques being used, trust your gut instinct. Negative experiences in early childhood can have long-term impact. If your child develops a fear of water, don’t ignore this – a child who panics is at greater risk.

  13. If your child is ill or on sedative medicine, do not allow swimming.

  14. Never allow swimming after dark.

  15.  If your child has suddenly gone quiet or wandered off, check the pool first. Even a minute can make the difference between survival, irreversible brain damage and death.

  16. Be a role model. Children tend to copy adults so don’t be a clown and ban hooligan antics from your pool. Never allow an adult who has been drinking or is under the influence of sedative medication to supervise children in or near a pool.

  17. Discourage walking or playing on any pool cover. Fit a sensor beam if your children tend to flout the rules.

  18. Don’t let pool levels drop. Keeping the pool topped up allows for small arms to easily grab the edge if needed.

  19. Never under estimate the scope of peer pressure when it comes to risk taking. If you see other children being excessively foolish in the pool, chat to the parent. Children don’t enjoy teasing and are one lot who often WILL jump in the fire if their friend tells them it is a good idea!

  20.  Discourage your dogs from swimming. Children and pets in a pool are not a good mix.

  21. Teach your child how to retrieve objects from the bottom of the pool to build water confidence and teach breathing techniques.

  22. Even if you don’t have children, it is still necessary to consider safety for visitors. Families living in residential complexes with a communal pool should insist that their body corporate install a pool cover.
Safety devices 
Safety devices that are available include a mesh barrier fence, self-closing and self-latching gate, alarms for doors windows and for detection in and around the pool, personnel immersion alarms, certified safety covers, life rings and shepherd's hooks.
While a home swimming pool is an obvious place to be practising water safety, don't forget that bathtubs, lakes, ponds, inflated kiddies pools and the beach are also dangerous.
The legal implications of owning a swimming pool

South African homeowners need to be aware of the legal and insurance implications of owning a swimming pool in light of new legislation.

The new legislation will place even more onus on the owner.

Homeowners should be aware that there are two types of cover under building insurance policies.

The first covers the actual damage of the structure, while the second is legal liability cover.

This is where the homeowner protects themselves legally against something happening to guests, trespassers and / or their tangible property on the insured property.

Currently, the owner of the pool is held accountable under South African Law of Delict in the event of a drowning incident.

South Africa’s civil liability laws mean a civil claim can be charged against a pool owner for any damage suffered as a result of drowning, whether fatal or not.

Internationally, pool safety laws are very strict and South Africa is following this trend.

There are regulations pertaining to safety ‘in and around’ swimming pools that relate to private swimming pools. Swimming pools that are situated on the grounds of a sectional title or community living scheme is deemed ‘private’ as they are for the specific use of owners or occupants and invited guests only.

For purpose of this article, content from National Building Regulations (NBR) – SABS 0400-1990 Part D (Public Safety) DD4 and also SANS 10134:2008 ‘The safeness of private swimming pools’ is referenced.

In reading the regulations and guidelines, it becomes apparent that the purpose of these regulations and guidelines is to prevent the accidental drowning of vulnerable persons, particulary young children. Legislation seems to focus on young children under age of seven years.

Here is a part summary format of NBR as applies to swimming pools:

  1. The owner of any site that has a swimming pool shall ensure by means of a wall or fence that no person can gain access to the pool from any street, public space or adjoining property other than through a self-closing and self-latching gate with provision for locking in such wall or fence; provided that where any building forms part of such wall, access may be through such building.
  2. The wall or fence and any such gate therein, shall not be less than 1.2m high from ground level and shall not contain any opening which will allow a ball measuring 100mm in diameter to pass through.’

Further safety guidelines for owners or occupiers in terms of SANS in summary as follows:

Over and above NBR above, consider other protective devices that should be installed by reputable manufacturers/suppliers only.

  1. Ensure competent adult supervision at the swimming pool whenever the gate is not locked.Stipulate that children may not use the swimming pool during absence of such competent adult supervision, unless under their own parental care.
  2. Prominently display complete emergency instructions (with relevant telephone numbers) and other related procedures near the swimming pool.
  3. Provide a suitable device with which a non-swimmer can pull a distressed child/person to safety, at close proximity to the swimming pool edge.
  4. Ensure that objects (e.g. deck chairs, wheelbarrows, etc.) onto which a child could climb so to scale the enclosure are not left unattended in the vicinity of the swimming pool.
  5. Keep a regular check on the condition and operation of the swimming pool enclosure structures and mechanisms as per NBR above.
  6. Keep swimming pool area free of obstructions and items or structures with sharp edges or projections that could cause injury to children.

Further recommendations that could/should be applied to rules governing the safety around a community use swimming pool, but not limited to, the following:

  1. No glass bottles or containers to be permitted in the swimming pool area.
  2. If the pool has a deep end, the deep end should be noted with a depth marker.
  3. No diving or ‘bomb-dropping’ permitted.
  4. No running allowed around the swimming pool edge.
The SANS guidelines may be followed, providing they are in keeping with your local authority requirements.

Examples of safe swimming pool enclosures (extracted from SANS 10400 D)

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Swimming Pool Safety Pretoria, Gauteng & South Africa

Over the past five years, a total of 3 000 deaths caused by drowning were recorded in the country, according to the Medical Research Council of South Africa.

On their website, Netcare 911 Operations Director, Peter Feurestein said approximately 75 per cent of all drownings in South Africa each year occur among young children under the age of five years. This is backed by a special report published by the World Health Organisation indicating that children under five years have the highest drowning mortality rate worldwide.

For this reason, safety precautions should be taken seriously.

Children and adults should be aware of the steps necessary when swimming. Many people might be in the water – be it at the beach or pool.
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