RE: Pond Safety (longish)
From: Robyn (poviinet.net.au)
Date: Tue, 4 Nov 2003 19:40:13 -0700 (MST)

Hi



My first question is, "what are the facts?" IE, what are the known
circumstances under which kids' drown in ponds or pools? Why do little
children go near or in water, what are their needs? How can they be
provided safely? What natural features discourages them ? Your Health
Dept, children's hospital, Kid Safe initiatives etc, will have accurate
info. Local regulations will need to be sought, although may not provide
imaginative solutions to satisfy the needs.

(In Australia the rate of backyard drowning in swimming pools is quite
high. Mainly toddlers I believe, who because of their disproportionately
large, heavy heads, loose their balance easily just from leaning over
the edge to pick up a floating leaf. They slip into the water like a
shuttle cock, then can't get leverage to lift their heads out of the
water. Many of these accidents happen so quietly that they're not
noticed by adults who are present.) 

Then appropriate safety features can be designed into a natural pond,
and will depend on size, location etc:
For example, a very shallow, longish 'beach' with a slight gradient
enables paddling safely, usually sufficient to satisfy toddlers.
Position at the most suitable entry point (accessible, visible). Maybe
start with rounded pebbles/sand, introduce sharper stones and a barrier
of reeds where it starts to get deeper. Offer a sandy area nearby, or an
adjacent water basin for playing in. Plant dense shrubs and thorny
flora, landscape with large rocks, and use water plants that can offer
safety in hot spots, and disguise areas where fencing is essential.

A small example: I have a pond and waterfall in my courtyard which I
don't want to close off completely from the common area beyond. The
small beach is just outside the glass sliding doors of my living/dining
area. I am currently creating a natural fence behind the waterfall area
which if climbed over, is slippery and falls into the deepest spot. This
will be incorporated into the rockery which will be filled with shrubs
to create a pleasing backdrop to the water feature, and will quickly
disguise the impenetrable fence, to be constructed out of tree boughs
and tea-tree sticks woven vertically through farm fencing.

My safety concerns led me to off-set my courtyard fence at the point
where passers-by can view the waterfall from the adjacent path without
access to the pond itself. It also provides more privacy for me than I
had when the only view of the pond was into my living room. I wouldn't
have come up with this idea without the safety imperative.

A great exercise in creatively synthesising the respective needs of all
concerned to come up with beautiful solutions.

Cheers
Robyn Williams
Pinakarri community
Fremantle, Western Australia


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