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Two families torn apart by drownings

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Two families torn apart by drownings Powered By Docstoc
					POOL SAFETY
POOL SAFETY

                                                                                                                                                                                  Wish list
Coroner ignored                                                                                                                                                                   for safe
                                                                                                                                                                                  fencing
                                                                                                                                                                                  A POOL-industry peak body




despite tragic toll
                                                                                                                                                                                  has issued its wish list for
                                                                                                                                                                                  changes to pool fencing legis-
                                                                                                                                                                                  lation.
                                                                                                                                                                                     The Sunday Mail revealed
                                                                                                                                                                                  last week that, after months of
                                                                                                                                                                                  campaigning by our Safe Sum-
                                                                                                                                                                                  mer campaign and by groups
                                                                                                                                                                                  such as Hannah’s Foundation,
                                                                                                                                                                                  the State Government had
Five years on, victim’s dad waits for action                                                                                                                                      decided to review laws regard-
                                                                                                                                                                                  ing pools in Queensland.
                                                                                                                                                                                     Swimming Pool and Spa
                                                                                                                                                                                  Association of Queensland
                                                                                                                                                (6) That all local                executive director David Close
                                                                                                                                                authorities be                    said he would like to see
 SAFE
 SUMMER
                                                                                                                                                required by
                                                                                                                                                                                  greater enforcement of the
                                                                                                                                                                                  existing legislation, as well as
                                                                                                                                                legislation to                    the expansion of real estate
                                                                                                                                                institute a regular               mandatory disclosure laws to
Sarah Vogler                                                                                                                                    system of inspection              include pool fencing.
                                                                                                                                                                                     ‘‘Currently, there are only
THE family of a boy whose                                                                                                                       of swimming pools
death in a pool five years ago                                                                                                                                                    two items in Queensland that
sparked a coroner’s call for
                                                                                                                                                (whether they be                  home sellers must produce full
tougher regulations, is furious                                                                                                                 random or not) to                 disclosure prior to sale —
the recommendations have                                                                                                                        ensure compliance                 smoke alarms and electrical
been ignored.                                                                                                                                                                     safety switches,’’ Mr Close said.
                                                                                                                                                by pool owners.                      ‘‘SPASA believes that pool
   Keith and Erica Tognola
said lives still were being lost                                                                                                                                                  fencing falls under the same
due to the State Government’s                                                                                                                                                     life-and-death category.’’
inaction.                                                                                                                                     TRAGIC LESSON: Keith
                                                                                                                                              Tognola holding a portrait of
   Philip Tognola, 5, drowned
in his neighbour’s poorly-
fenced backyard pool on
                                                                                                                                              his son Philip yesterday; and
                                                                                                                                              an extract from the
                                                                                                                                              coroner’s report following
                                                                                                                                                                                  Call for
Easter Saturday, 2003.
   In 2005, Cairns coroner
Robert Spencer handed down
                                                                                                                                              the 2003 drowning                   labels on
the findings of his inquest into
Philip’s death and made sev-                                                                                                                  tried to find a way in. I climbed   packaging
eral recommendations, includ-                                                                                                                 the fence and grabbed him out
ing a compulsory inspection                                                                                                                   of the pool and started CPR.        A BUILDING certifier has
regime, to ensure it never                                                                                                                       ‘‘In the meantime Erica was      called on manufacturers to
happened again.                                                                                                                               on the phone to the ambu-           play their part in preventing
   The coroner’s recommen-                                                                                                                    lance.                              backyard drownings.
dations included:                                                                                                                                ‘‘We worked on him until            Trevor Maltby, who is from
• Councils be required by legis-                                                                                                              the ambulance arrived.              Ayr, near Townsville, has been
lation to institute a regular                                                                                                                    ‘‘We followed the ambu-          inspecting Queensland’s build-
system of pool inspections to                                                                                                                 lance to the hospital and that’s    ings and pools for 28 years. He
ensure compliance.                                                                                                                            when the doctor sat us down         said he often spotted inflatable
• Contracts of property sales to                                                                                                              and said ‘We’ve done every-         pools full of water and
include mandatory compliance                                                                                                                  thing we can.’                      unfenced in the yards of
certificates and clearance from                                                                                                                  ‘‘It’s every parent’s worst      Queensland homes.
the local council before proper-                                                                                                              fear.’’                                ‘‘The Act says that a pool
ties with swimming pools could                                                                                                                   Mr Tognola said it was still     that is capable of being filled
be settled.                                                                                                                                   unclear why Philip went into        with 300mm of water must be
• A single law relating to pools,                                                                                                             the pool.                           fenced with a compliant
irrespective of their construc-                                                                                                                  ‘‘We used to rent a home         fence,’’ Mr Maltby said.
tion date. (Currently the law is                                                                                                              with a pool. It had a fence            ‘‘Portable pools say on the
different for pools built before                                                                                                              around and he never tried to        box to check with your local
1991).                                                                                                                                        get in without an adult around      authority for fencing require-
   Since then, 21 children have                                                                                                               him,’’ he said. ‘‘I think about     ments. They should be
drowned in domestic pools and                                                                                                                 that day nearly every day.          stamped with, ‘This pool must
the majority of those deaths                                                                                                                     ‘‘You look at his picture on     be fenced and a permit ob-
were related to faulty or non-                                                                                                                the bookshelf and you wonder        tained’.’’
                                    not going to bring Philip back     tragedy. Philip and his sister      had finished I called the kids                                            This week a Sunshine Coast
complaint pool fencing.                                                                                                                       how tall he would be.
                                    but it could save somebody         Krystal, then 2, had been           in. I called (Philip) and he                                           mother cried foul after the
   ‘‘Get off your backside and                                                                                                                   ‘‘For probably two years
do something about it,’’ Mr         else’s life.                       playing outside while Mr            didn’t answer.                     after he died I had nightmares      Sunshine Coast Regional
Tognola said yesterday.                ‘‘While   they’re    sitting    Tognola and his wife were              ‘‘When I checked all the        of that day. You just live the      Council demanded she fence
   ‘‘There’s too many kids          around thinking about it, kids     inside with a computer tech-        bedrooms, the last bedroom         whole day over and over.’’          her $80 inflatable pool.
drowning. If they’d im-             are dying.’’                       nician.                             that I check overlooked the           While the family still grieves      ‘‘That’s what the legislation
plemented some of the cor-             Mr Tognola said he and his         ‘‘The last time I saw them       (next-door neighbour’s) pool       Philip’s loss, Mr Tognola said      says,’’ Mr Maltby said.
oner’s        recommendations,      family, who have since moved       they were playing on the            and that’s when I saw him          they were getting on with life.        Wading pools are dangerous
maybe some of these kids            to Townsville, were still          veranda,’’ Mr Tognola said.         floating in the pool.                 ‘‘We’re concentrating on his     as children could drown in the
might still be alive. I know it’s   haunted by the day of the             ‘‘When the computer guy             ‘‘I just raced downstairs and   sister now,’’ he said.              smallest amount of water.




Two families torn apart by drownings
Sarah Vogler                                                           pull through. ‘‘It was only         older brothers Samuel and          his usual mischievous self. ‘‘He    Mr O’Connor called for
                                                                       when we were in the emerg-          Flynn took part.                   was probably gone for a whole       tougher pool fencing legis-
TODDLERS Harper Hockings                                               ency room and the pediatrician        The Hockings are now brac-       five minutes,’’ he said. ‘‘They     lation. He said: ‘‘I’d really like
and Ryan O’Connor both had
                                                                       said, ‘We’re doing everything       ing themselves for their first     thought he was playing quietly      to see a double-locking system
cheeky smiles and adventurous
spirits — and both drowned in                                          we can to bring him back’.          Christmas without Harper.          inside.                             on pool gates.’’
backyard pools.                                                           ‘‘When he said ‘bring him          ‘‘No one deserves to lose a         ‘‘My wife and daughter              And he warned parents to be
   Their families have joined                                          back’, I thought, ‘This isn’t       child,’’ said Mrs Hockings.        found him in the pool.              vigilant. ‘‘It can happen so
The Sunday Mail’s Safe Sum-         VICTIMS: Harper Hockings           going to end how I want it to         ‘‘I never thought I’d be the        ‘‘My father-in-law rang me.      quickly. You only have to take
mer campaign to share their         and Ryan O’Connor                  end’. That’s when I said, ‘I need   mother of a drowned baby.’’        He was nearly in tears and said     your eye off them for a minute
stories and stop others suffer-                                        a chair please’.                      Townsville toddler Ryan          I had to get home straight          or so and it can happen.’’
ing the same heartbreak.               But that day Harper’s curi-        Mr Hockings said: ‘‘My           O’Connor’s father Craig said       away, there had been a terrible        Both the Hockings and
   Blue-eyed Ipswich toddler        osity led him straight to their    heart is broken for the rest of     Christmas was going to be a        accident.                           O’Connors back Hannah’s
Harper was just 19 months old       friend’s pool. By the time he      my life. I wish I would wake up     tough time for his family, too.       ‘‘ As soon as he said that I     Foundation in memory of two-
when he wandered off while          was found it was too late.         from this dream.’’                    Ryan died just three days        knew what it was. We don’t          year-old Hannah Plint who
playing at a friend’s home on          He was rushed to Ipswich           The family held a swim-a-        before Christmas last year.        know how he got in there. We        drowned in her family’s pool in
March 29 this year.                 Hospital but died shortly after.   thon in his honour in Septem-         Mr O’Connor said the day         probably never will.’’              October last year.
   ‘‘He was the most mischiev-         Mrs Hockings said she           ber to raise money for the          the two-year-old fell in their        They had just had their pool     For more information visit
ous baby,’’ said mum Elissa.        thought Harper was going to        Ipswich Hospice. Harper’s           backyard pool, he was being        gate fixed two months before.       www.hannahsfoundation.org

Page 12     THE SUNDAY MAIL          December 7, 2008                                                                                                                                     thesundaymail.com.au         CST

				
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