Lake Macquarie City Council has issued a warning about the risk of drowning in backyard pools after new data revealed more than 70 per cent of pools across the city failed safety inspections.
Analysis of 1840 pool inspections conducted in the 2018 calendar year shows more than seven in 10 did not comply with NSW safety legislation.
Even upon re-inspection, more than 40 per cent still didn’t make the grade.
Senior Compliance Officer Ndabezinhle Mothobi said gates that didn’t close properly, failure to have a current CPR chart on display in the pool area and the presence of objects along the pool fence-line that children could to use gain access were among the most common problems.
“A lot of gates will close automatically if you pull them wide open, but they also need to latch shut even if only slightly resting on the latch,” Mr Mothobi said.
“It is frightening, but time and time again across Australia, backyard drownings have occurred because a pool gate has been left just slightly ajar.”
Royal Life Saving Australia data shows 92 people have drowned nationwide so far this summer, including the death of a 19-month-old baby in a backyard pool in Port Stephens.
That total marks a 36 per cent increase on the same period 12 months ago.
Mr Mothobi said pool compliance officers could issue $550 on-the-spot fines for home owners whose pools did not comply with safety legislation.
“Most of the time, we will issue a warning first and give them a chance to fix the problem before we come back and reinspect,” Mr Mothobi said.
Mr Mothobi urged pool owners to be mindful of objects around the pool fence perimeter that children could use to climb over the fence.
“Even objects inside a traditional pool fence can be a problem because a small child can get their foot between the bars and use those objects to step up and over,” Mr Mothobi said.
Lake Macquarie is home to an estimated 20,000-25,000 backyard pools, about 14,000 of which are registered.
Mr Mothobi said inspections took place throughout the year across the City, with officers using aerial mapping to identify and target unregistered pools.
Detailed information about swimming pool safety and fencing is available at lakemac.nsw.gov.au/pool-safety.