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Campaign to make pools safe

02 December 2019 Lyall Russell
Andrea and Shelby Wakefield

A mum who lost her toddler in an unfenced, private pool does not want other parents to go through what her family went through.

“On the 7th of August 2013, I received a call that changed my family’s lives forever. I was told that my gorgeous Shelby had somehow got through the self-closing door at her grandparents’ house and had been found lifeless in the unfenced pool. The attending paramedics did everything they could, but tragically my little girl couldn’t be revived,” Andrea Wakefield said.

“One of the hardest parts is we’ll never know what happened in the minutes before she drowned. We miss her every day, her younger siblings often ask about her, and it breaks my heart they never got to know each other.”

Ms Wakefield is now urging everyone to get fences around their pools.

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“Also consider extra precautionary measures to prevent kids getting through pool gates. We now have a key lock on our gate and a floating alarm that will sound if someone falls in the water.”

She recommends taking toys out of the pool to take away the temptation for kids who want to try and get through the barrier.

“These are small steps we can all take to help keep kids out of harm’s way.”

This warning marks the start of Consumer Protection’s campaign to educate the community about pool safety over summer and Christmas.

Children can drown in as little as three centimetres of water, which is why there is a push for safety in and around portable pools, commissioner David Hillyard said.

“Research has shown that point-of-sale is the best place to inform consumers about safety risks, so we’re delighted for a second year running to have a commitment from three major Australian portable pool sellers to display our ‘Don’t Duck Out, Make It SAFE’ materials in store or at tills,” he said.

“We need to make sure consumers don’t duck out of the responsibilities that come with buying a portable pool, which may include putting up a safety barrier when setting up the product at home. Generally, swimming pools or spas containing 30 centimetres of water or more must be fenced.”

Last year, 16 children drowned, and there were more than 200 non-fatal drowning incidents reported in pools across Australia, Royal Life Saving WA CEO Peter Leaversuch said.

“As we head into summer when drowning rates are highest, we are urging everyone to keep water safety front of mind, especially when it comes to young children. It is crucial adults keep watch constantly around water, restrict access to water bodies with barriers that have functioning self-closing and self-latching mechanisms and do not prop open pool gates. Learning resuscitation and emergency response skills is also important, as being able to respond quickly can be the difference between life and death.”

Campaign to make pools safe
Andrea and Shelby Wakefield reb
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