Why have the rules concerning pools changed?
The 2012 National Drowning Report prepared by the Royal Life Saving Society has reported that twenty one drowning deaths of 0-4 year olds occurred in Australia in 2011/2012.
Thirty eight per cent (38%) of those drowning deaths took place in swimming pools. A 2010 study showed that a person was 200 times more likely to drown, relative to exposure to water, than to be involved in a traffic fatality.
In addition to the deaths from drowning statistics, there are many stories of young children that survive immersion in water, but are left with lasting physical and mental disabilities. The Children's Hospital Westmead has reported that there was an average of 25 near drowning incidents per year among children under the age of five that occurred in swimming pools from 2007/08 to 2009/10.
Further, the Division of Local Government estimated approximately 10% of all non-fatal admissions result in permanent brain damage based on data from various sources. More recent data suggests that of all near drowning incidents, 22.3% will experience some form of permanent brain damage, leading to the need for long term care.
The Division of Local Government has estimated the total cost to NSW of child immersions in home swimming pools per year to be approximately 23 million. These statistics indicate the importance of water safety and the vulnerability of small children near pools.
The recent changes to legislation concerning swimming pools aims to assist in improving pool safety.