Swimming Pool Safety in Greece
How to keep your children safe when swimming in Greece...
Pool safety for the prevention of drowning is becoming a global concern. By way of illustration, there are 600 to 800 pool-related drowning deaths, each year, in America alone. France has implemented some of the toughest domestic pool safety regulations in Europe, with non-compliance resulting in a punitive fine of up to €45,000, plus the added risk of being sued if an accident at your home involves someone else's child. Australia, New Zealand and many American states have also enacted strict laws relating to access to domestic pools by young children.
Pool ownership is no longer associated with just the municipal, tourist and leisure industries. Greece has experienced an explosion in residential pool ownership in recent years, and a pool is now a desirable selling feature of any new property. In addition, pools are, more and more, being retro-fitted to existing homes. Ownership of a swimming pool, however, brings with it all the risks attendant when any body of water lies in close proximity to a child's day-to-day living environment. For that reason, there is a need on the part of parents to identify those risks, the requirement to be extra vigilant at all times, and the necessity to take preventative measures in order to minimise the chances of a water-borne accident from happening.
Pool safety is all about building up what are known as "layers of protection". The more layers you put in place, the less opportunity for an accident.
Safety steps to take:
- Never allow young children to be left alone in and around the pool. Not even for one moment. Never turn your back, and always maintain eye contact. lf you must leave the pool area - even for one minute - take the child with you.
- All doors and windows leading to, or backing onto, the pool should be locked and secured at all times, even in mid-summer.
- lf a child goes missing in and around the home, look in the pool area first.
- Pools should be fenced from the rest of the house. However, in order to be 100% safe and effective, the fence needs to be a compliant safety fence - one which meets or exceeds recognised safety criteria - rather than an improvised fence, installed by someone with little or no knowledge of pool safety requirements.
- The gate to the pool fence should be self-closing and self-latching, opening outwards away from the pool. The gate latch should be placed at the top of the gate and be inaccessible from the outside by small children. 1.5m (4' 11") is the recommended minimum height for the latch.
- The area adjacent to the outside of the fence must be free of objects which may aid children in climbing over the fence. These include items such as chairs, tables, ladders, tree branches, etc.
- lf obstructions or lack of space preclude a fence, then a safety net, safety cover, electric cover or automatic cover can prove effective barriers to entry. With hundreds of thousands installed worldwide over the past 30 years, these safety barriers have an impeccable safety record.
- Never keep toys around, or in, a pool when not in use. Kids are attracted to toys and might try to get them.
- lf you delegate your child-minding to others, ensure that babysitters and guardians are aware of the dangers posed by the pool. Instruct them about potential hazards in and around the pool. Ensure that you, your babysitters, and your children learn and practice CPR.
- Mount flotation devices designed for lifesaving (such as a lifebuoy) near the pool. Better still, keep a safety hook to reach a submerged child in the event of an emergency.
- Make sure that you, your children and your child minders know the emergency numbers in Greece. Post the number (112) at the pool and also at the nearest telephone.
- It's easy to overlook pool safety when you have social gatherings. So, assign an adult Water Watcher to supervise the pool/spa area at such times. Arrange a rota, so the task does not become tedious.
Remember, there can be no compromise on pool safety. You are dealing, literally, with a life and death situation.