Safety First!

 2017-09-21 01:53 PM by
Safety First!

Aqua-Net is a national company with branches throughout South Africa.  We cover the nation.  Our core product is the swimming pool safety net.  Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in children under the age of five, third only to car accident and burns.

A swimming pool is a wonderful way for a family to socialise and relax but there is always an inherent danger present.  It is every pool owner’s responsibility to ensure that there swimming pool is safely secured to prevent accidents. 

There are many ways to go about securing a swimming pool, a safety net, a pool fence, a pool cover.  Any of these options is worth considering if it means that a child cannot enter the pool without adult supervision.  Each option has its pros and cons.

The swimming pool safety net was first invented in Zimbabwe around 40 years ago.  Since then the safety net has saved countless lives.  It is a simple cost effective way to secure a swimming pool and does not detract from the aesthetic of the pool, still allowing a view of the pool water.  Aqua-Net first developed the central tension system and float which assists the user to fit and remove the net with minimal effort.  The Aqua-Net can be operated by one person and should not take more than 3 minutes to remove on an average size pool and no more than 5 minutes to replace.  It offers an exceptional degree of safety with zero reported drowning on an installed Aqua-Net in over 40 years.  The Aqua-net is a versatile option that can be custom fitted to any size or shape pool.  It is designed with an open mesh so that a crawling baby or toddler will be supported off the water on the netting should they fall into the pool and their arms and legs will become entrapped in the netting preventing forward movement on the net.  It is uncomfortable and will normally result in the child crying and alerting an adult’s attention.  A crawling baby will be suspended off the water.  As children age and get heavier and more mobile they may come into contact with the water but will be able to push themselves up and away from the water.

An Aqua-Net has an expected lifespan of 6 -8 years in the sun and we offer a three year no nonsense guarantee on our product.  It is the most cost effective way to go about securing a swimming pool with an excellent track record in drowning prevention.  Another option for securing a swimming pool is the solid safety cover.  This is a cover manufactured from pvc and supported in place by poles at regular intervals across the pool.  The solid safety cover uses minimal fittings and attachments and is ratcheted into place and kept under tension.  Designed to support the weight of two adults and a child it also helps keep the pool clean and free of leaves and debris, reduces water evaporation and chemical use.  The solid safety cover is not as versatile as the safety net and can only be used on certain pool shapes and sizes. The fitted cover is rather heavy and requires two people to fit and remove.  It does however provide a high degree of safety and there are less fittings and components on the paving surround. It offers more functionality in that it helps reduce maintenance and running costs. It is more expensive than a traditional safety net however with a one year guarantee and lifespan of 4- 5 years. The solid safety cover is another excellent way to secure a pool.

Aqua-Net also offer a removable fencing system as an alternative to a pool net or cover.  Pool fencing provides a means to secure the area that a pool is in rather than the pool itself.  The fence is made from a fibreglass mesh coated in pvc and is 1,2m high.  The fence is fitted using aluminium poles and a self closing lockable gate. Many people feel that a fence provides a higher degree of safety than a net, but many drownings happen in pools that are fenced. It is important to always remember that any safety product is a back up to adult supervision.

Over the past three years there has been much talk about the implementation of a bylaw in the City of Johannesburg that would see pool owners being required to net or cover or fence there pool.  A misconception arose nationally that this bylaw would roll out to the rest of the country.  At present the only safety requirement for any pool owner nationally is that their pool must be restricted from access by any member of the public.  This forms part of the national building regulations.  Some building inspectors, municipalities and housing estates have their own bylaws in place requiring more onerous levels of pool safety but this is the exception and not the norm. Two months ago the City of Jhb decided to withdraw their swimming pool safety bylaw.  In the interim work has been undertaken to develop an SABS standard for swimming pool safety nets and covers.  This new standard will incorporate the American ASTM specification as the benchmark for any swimming pool safety cover or net.  Any safety net or cover will need to be installed to a specific standard which will ensure that it offers the required levels of safety.  It is hoped that this new standard which is currently available for public comment will be incorporated into the national building regulations and referenced as part of the building of a swimming pool.  This will see more focus being placed on swimming pool safety nationally. 

An Aqua-Net or any pool cover is no substitute for adult supervision.  It is there to provide a last line of safety should a child wander off unsupervised.  It only takes seconds for a child to drown.  Drowning is a silent killer.  In South Africa in 2012 Netcare reported that they attended to 218 drownings or near drownings.  That statistic is from just one Emergency response operator.  Childsafe a NGO reports that 326 children drown every year because an adult turned their back!   The Medical Research council has released statistics that over 3000 people died from drowning in the past 5 years.  More than one death by drowning every day of the year.  Children drown every day. 

As operators in the swimming pool industry I believe that it is our responsibility to ensure that a message is conveyed to the public with regards to the risks that exist around owning a pool.  This does not have to be done in a way that will detract from your business dealings but in a way that will enhance your relationship with your customer out of concern for your customer and their children. If a pool is being built or maintained and a child is present in the home, I’m sure that you would agree the pool owner should be made aware of the risks and given options with regards to how the pool can best be secured.  This can be done as an additional service which is easily outsourced. 

Recently we saw an American advertising campaign where reference is made to pool ownership.

It said: “You wouldn’t leave a loaded gun lying on your table. So, why leave your pool uncovered?”