Awareness campaign for portable pool fencing needed: Tasmanian coroner

By Natalie Whiting – ABC

A coroner has called for a public awareness campaign about the requirement for portable pools to be fenced following the drowning of an 18-month-old boy in Hobart.

Kobie Ryder Blackaby died in February 2014 after falling into an inflatable pool that had less than 50 centimetres of water in it.

His father, Timothy Blackaby, found him floating in the water and despite performing CPR with the help of friends and neighbours was unable to revive him.

It is thought the little boy got out of the house while other older children were opening the front door.

The pool the baby boy was found in was not inflated fully.

Coroner Olivia McTaggart said it was likely the boy leaned against the side of the pool, which then collapsed, allowing him to fall in.

Once inside the pool, the inflatable rings would have returned to their normal position, trapping him.

Ms McTaggart said the death may have been prevented if the pool had been fenced in.

She has recommended that responsible state and local government bodies incorporate into existing water safety strategies a public education campaign to highlight the requirement to fence portable and inflatable pools.

The coroner also noted there appeared to have been a rise in the number of inflatable backyard pools in Tasmania following the introduction of cheaper and smaller options into the market.

She has recommended relevant authorities monitor any increase, and develop and implement water safety strategies for them.

Bid to get pool buyers to join register

Royal Life Saving Tasmania shared the coroner’s concerns that sales of inflatable pools were on the rise.

Executive director Paula Robertson said it was looking at a collaborative program with state and local governments to track portable pool sales.

“We are looking at undertaking to encourage purchasers of inflatable pools to register their details on a statewide database upon purchase, to implement specific campaigns and awareness campaigns and actually identify the number of pools being sold within Tasmania,” she said.

Ms Robertson said information about where the pools were being bought would be invaluable.

“We’d be able to actually monitor how many pools are within the area and within the state, and we’d be able to start rolling out some of our campaigns around water safety and water awareness within those areas, particularly to communities where we can see high numbers of pools being purchased,” she said.