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Five near drownings at Invercargill swimming pool lead to rule changes

Five near drownings at Invercargill swimming pool lead to rule changes
October 7, 2015

Five children have nearly drowned at Invercargill's Splash Palace swimming pools in the past six weeks because their caregivers were not watching them, according to Manager Pete Thompson.

With a report in The Southland Times explaining that three of the five children required an ambulance and were hospitalised, the management of the Splash Palace wants parents to get off their mobile telephones and to focus on their children in the water.

The five incidents included one where the child was ‘blue’ and floating on his back when pulled from the pool and another where the child was given CPR at the poolside.

Thompson told The Southland Times that the five children were aged between five and eight and in all cases there was a lack of parental or caregiver supervision.

None suffered any long term damage, "but the potential was there", Thompson stated.

He added lifeguards were at the pool to monitor the swimmers but if they had to enter the water to save someone then all the other steps required of parents and caregivers had failed.

Thompson explained "I don't know if people expect lifesavers to be babysitters, but we expect the adults to be more switched on, particularly with young kids.

"My son is five and I wouldn't dream of letting him in the pool on his own and unsupervised, but people do."

Thompson was particularly concerned at the increasing number of parents and caregivers who spend their time looking at their iPhones and reading books and newspapers instead of watching their children.

He told The Southland Times “we have noticed in the last few months especially, it's getting worse. The lack of active supervision is getting worse."

No-one has drowned at Splash Palace, but the increasing number of near misses has prompted changes to be made.

From this Monday (5th October), if pool staff identify any children who aren't being properly supervised their caregivers will be spoken to.

Thompson stated “if they continue to not supervise them properly we will ask them to leave the facility.

"We want to be very clear and firm with people that they must appropriately supervise their children. The outcome of not doing so is something we don't want to see happen."

As of today (Wednesday 7th October) all children under the age of eight at Splash Palace will be required to wear high visibility wristbands so pool staff can easily identify the high-risk youngsters who are not being properly supervised.

Current pool rules state that children under the age of five must be within arms reach of their caregiver at all times; and children under the age of eight must be actively supervised by their caregivers at all times.

However, from 1st December the "within arms reach" rule will apply to all children under the age of seven.

Posters have also been put up around the pool complex telling people to get off their phones, while the posters also warn that drowning is silent.

Thompson concluded that people often have misconceptions about drowning, commenting “there's (often) no splashing, no crying out for help, people just disappear under the water."

The Splash Palace made global headlines earlier this year when a serial defecator forced the closure of its pools on six consecutive Fridays.

Splash Palace incidents

23rd August: An eight-year-old girl was hospitalised after nearly drowning in the leisure pool. She was pulled her out of the water and staff gave her CPR and she coughed up water and started breathing.

Thompson stated “she was here with neighbours and they weren't watching her.”

4th September: A six-year-old boy was hospitalised after going into deep water and nearly drowning while his dad spent a "few seconds" checking emails on his cellphone instead of watching him. The boy coughed up water when removed from the pool.

29th September: A five-year-old child, who was out of their depth, was rescued.

1st October: An eight-year-old child, who was out of their depth, was rescued.

1st October: A seven-year-old boy was hospitalised after being found "blue" and floating on his back in the leisure pool. He spewed out water as a lifeguard pulled him out. His caregiver was by the hydroslide (waterslide, ed), nowhere near the leisure pool, when he was nearly drowning.




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