Pool safety – the discussion to reduce drowning in SA

As building professionals, the design of a pool and its future safety is of critical importance. (Image: Supplied)

As child drownings in private pools continue to occur daily in South Africa, local government and heads of the water and pool safety industry are concerned with the number of drownings in swimming pools. In South Africa, a total of 250 people drown in pools each year, and some further action is required to reduce these accidental deaths.

PowerPlastics Pool Covers has led the pool safety market for over 30 years and is an active member of this important debate.

“Currently, pool safety is addressed legislatively by SANS 10400D, and this Standard focuses on preventing public access to the property. More recently, in 2018, a further SABS Standard was adopted, SANS 10134, and here the recommended standards for safety in and around a swimming pool on a property are identified. SANS 10134 is just a recommendation and it is not a requirement for a new pool owner, and tragic drownings have continued. There is currently a discussion taking place for further legislative approaches to ensure that pool owners adopt these recommendations and secure their pools. While one would have liked to assume that adults will be responsible with their own and other people’s children, tragedies continue, and as a result, the recommended standards need to be more pro-actively adopted,” according to Roger Bester, PowerPlastics Pool Covers.

The call is for security within a 5m perimeter of the pool, which can be obtained with walls, fences with self-locking gates, pool nets and/or safety pool covers. One of these needs to be readily available on a site to ensure child safety and enable the pool to meet the recommendations of SANS 10134 and international swimming pool safety standards.

In tragic incidents where children have drowned, the duties of the homeowner in building a safe pool need to be clarified. The duties and responsibilities of child caregivers on sites where there are pools also need to be clearly understood. Often children are left with a responsible person, but at what age is a child deemed a responsible adult? Age 14? And does that person know who to call if things go wrong, and are they trained in first responder CPR? Surely prevention is an easier route than trying to respond to a drowning.

As building professionals, the design of a pool and its future safety is of critical importance. Pools should also be made safe as properties transfer from one owner to the next and circumstances change.

“These are critical discussions that must take place to ensure a fair and reasonable approach to swimming pools, but not overshadowing fundamental safety. Child drownings are almost always preventable accidents if the correct measures of pool safety are applied.

“If you look at the automotive industry, no car is made without seatbelts, and it is the law that every child must wear one. The same must apply for pools – each pool must be safe. Even if you don’t have children, you are still going to have children visiting your home. Consider how many drowning tragedies involve the children of domestic workers who occasionally accompany parents to work,” says Bester.

PowerPlastics Pool Covers was instrumental in helping SABS create a space for pool safety within building standards. This discussion, which goes further than just talking about safety, will hopefully produce some more concrete steps to ensure a meaningful reduction in child drownings in private pools.

Follow the progress of this new bylaw by following PowerPlastics Pool Covers and its CSI platform, TopStep by PowerPlastics Pool Covers, on social media.

Visit the official COVID-19 government website to stay informed: sacoronavirus.co.za