All pools must have safe locks, gates, latches and fences.
All pools must have safe locks, gates, latches and fences.

Pool warning for communities

NSW communities are said to have a dangerous mix of lax backyard pool safety and young children who are not competent swimmers.

Australian drowning support charity, the Hannah Foundation, has issued the warning after a national report found one in five 11- to 12-year-olds cannot swim 50 metres.

The foundation said most backyard drownings occurred in rental properties, citing that NSW pool regulations and inspections lag behind Queensland.

The call came after the Royal Life Saving Association released alarming figures showing child drownings had risen by 20 per cent during the past two years.

Young Janessa Hill almost had her name added to the growing list of tragedies.

The 17-month-old slipped out of her mother Kylie’s sight for a split second and got through unmaintained barriers at a rental property in Redbank. Her 14-year-old sister Janeeka called triple-0 while Kylie and her sister Natalie performed CPR on the little girl’s lifeless body.

“I recall seeing something from the deck of the pool when I called her name and that’s when I saw her and jumped in to get her, I was screaming for help,” Mrs Hill said.

“I then stripped off her clothes to see her chest, put her in the recovery position to drain the water out and gave her breaths and compressions, I couldn’t believe how much water there was.

“No one should ever go through this nightmare, it was horrifying I never thought that this would happen to me and I am so grateful that I knew CPR,” she said.

“I just want to get the message out that everyone needs to know CPR and that every rental property must have safe locks, gates, latches and pool fences.

“I had reported our pool and its broken locks to the necessary authorities and no one had fixed them.

“It was always going to be ‘next week’.”

Hannah’s chief executive, Andrew Plint, who started the foundation after his daughter drowned in 2007, said NSW landlords and parents must heed the warning and inspect their pool areas.

“There have been eight coronial inquests investigating toddler drownings this year. Six of those drownings unfortunately, happened in rental properties,” Mr Plint said.

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