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  • Keegan Thomson

How could this happen?

SUMMER is supposed to be a time of relaxation with friends and family. One of the best ways to spend the long, hot and humid days is relaxing in the pool or around water, however this summer has left at least 22 people dead across the state due to accidents around water.

In western Sydney there has been at least four families who’ve been left distraught due to drownings in the last four weeks.

One of the most tragic incidents was at Kellyville Ridge where two 23-month-old twins were pulled unconscious from their backyard pool just days before Christmas.

Sadly both toddlers died only a day apart from each other.

According to Royal Life Saving NSW, 280 people drowned in Australia in 2016 with 96 of those being in New South Wales’ pools, beaches and backyards.

The sharp increase in drowning incidents across the state prompted Surf Life Saving NSW to issue a holiday period warning.

Surf Life Saving NSW Lifesaving Manager, Andy Kent, said the life saving team is prepared for a busy few days across NSW.

“Hot weather and school holidays are sure to mean more people will head to the beach or other waterways to try and cool off,” said Mr Kent.

He gave a special warning for people who’re heading out on boats.

“As always we urge everyone to swim at patrolled locations and to look out for each other on the beach. If you’re going boating or heading offshore in a kayak or other small watercraft, please wear a lifejacket,” he said.

Mr Kent admitted lifesavers across the state would be put under a lot of pressure over the next few weeks due to the excess number of people in the water.

“This could put pressure on lifeguards who are on patrol weekdays across the state and our volunteer lifesavers as we move into the weekend.

“Lifeguards and lifesavers have been extremely busy over the last few weeks and we are urging the public to do what they can to help lessen the load by taking some responsibility for their own safety,” he said.

Of course drownings don’t only happen in open water, on rivers and in public pools, they also occur silently in the backyard pool, with one of the biggest hidden dangers coming from small inflatable pools.

Alison Mahony, a Senior Researcher at Royal Life Saving Australia, said an unsupervised child can drown in any small amount of water.

“Some inflatable paddling pools can hold more than 30 centimetre of water, which is more than enough water to cause a child to drown,” Ms Mahony said.

“Something people don’t know is that if their pool holds more than 30 centimetres of water they may have to have it fenced off,” she said.

Blacktown council’s regulations say any pool holding more than 300 millimetres of water must be fenced off and a self locking gate must be included in the fence. These rules also include inflatable pools.

Penrith council’s regulations say any pool holding more than 30 centimetre of water must be fenced off and a self locking gate must be included in the fence. Any pool owner who fails to meet these conditions could face a fine of $550.

Owners of backyard swimming pools and spas are also legally required to register their swimming pool or spa on the NSW swimming pool register, this includes inflatable pools holding 30cm or more of water. Failure to register could include a $220 fine.

With more awareness and safety precautions around swimming pools we can surely manage to curb the number of drowning deaths in New South Wales.

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