An Unnerving Spike in Backyard Drownings in Sydney calls for review of regulation on pool compliance and certification
At least five toddlers in NSW have drowned in backyard pools since December last year, four of which drowned in Sydney suburbs, an alarming increase from the two backyard pool drownings that took place in the whole of the 2015-2016 financial year. Sydney weather broke record temperatures this past summer, as Wishart of Surf Life Saving mentioned could be to blame for the sudden increase in drownings in backyard pools and other inland bodies of water; “This time last year was quite miserable and cold and people were not in the water to the same extent.” Unsupervised toddlers made their way to their backyard pools and a lack of supervision, proper fencing or absence of other precautions made pool access easy and claimed lives within minutes.
According to Royal Life Saving NSW, swimming pool fencing remains a key policy issue for state and territory governments as inadequate fencing or care with closing fence gates continues to prove itself to be a major contributor to child drownings in backyard pools, causing up to 75 per cent of backyard drownings. It is suspected that the drowning of 2 year old Vera Peacock in Macquarie Fields happened while Vera, not being within an adult’s sight, had either managed to open the gate to the pool herself or had spotted the gate already ajar and quickly disappeared into the pool. Vera’s relatives warn guardians across Australia to be more vigilant at any scene with a pool nearby, saying: “Don’t assume you know where they are, be sure you know where they are.” This should be carefully regarded especially in distracting situations like the busy family gathering Vera and her mother were attending.