Blog

Welcome to the news and blog page of Sentrel Balustrade and Pool Fencing.

We plan to keep you updated with our most recent jobs, product developments, statutory regulations, and even have some fun!

We hope that you enjoy our efforts and pass our page onto a friend.

 

— May 2, 2017

Adhesives – the Way of the Future. Today. At Sentrel.

This month, we thought we’d adventure into new territory: an interview with Sentrel’s Director, designer and inventor, Brett Harrison. We’re discussing one of the (many) unique features of our newest product, the aluminium balustrade system.

What makes this system so unusual is how it is all held onto your deck – with adhesives!

The latest technology, adhesives are used in many engineering applications, including the vehicle and aircraft industries. Think about that the next time you are flying at 35,000 feet in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Listen to the interview to learn just how sophisticated this technology is, and how it works to hold your balustrade onto your deck well into the next century.

 

— Mar 16, 2017

Your Say About Compliance and Safety

Last month, our blog was on the subject of ‘Compliance and Safety’, and we examined the continuing deaths of young children in backyard pools despite rigorous safety measures and legislation.

We wanted to explore how you felt about where the responsibility for childhood drowning lies, so that we can create some dialogue and awareness around this subject.

Of course, we are pledged to helping prevent deaths, and our products reflect our stringent standards and commitment to safety and quality. However, statistics have shown that although Australia leads the world in pool safety legislation, the incidence of childhood drowning hasn’t altered appreciably in the last 10 – 15 years. Whether children are scaling the fences, pushing furniture to the fence and climbing up, or – unbelievably – pool gates are being left open, the reality is that a pool fence is a secondary line of defence against a child drowning.

We pushed our post out to more than 22,000 people from our Facebook Page to generate comments and gather your thoughts. Here is the post, including the comments that you responded with:

 

OK. You've got the pool fence. So you think you're #safe? 
Please read our Post and join the discussion. What are your...

Posted by Sentrel Balustrade and Pool Fencing on Tuesday, 14 February 2017

 

Some of the thoughts included ideas like:

• If kids want to get over they will, no matter what. It comes down to adult supervision full stop.
• Discipline is essential … children not allowed near the pool, NO questions asked.
• Extra safety measures - putting a bike lock around the entrance to the gate, move stuff away from the fence, pool covers.
• Lock all the doors and windows.
• Safety covers.
• Make fences higher … 1.8m with flat surface slippery so no grip. And nothing to grab to pull themselves up.
• Videos around the pool scanning the fence and gates.
• A motion alarm around a pool.

The overwhelming consensus was agreement in the basic principles we believe so strongly in. Responsible supervision is the most important factor in ensuring safety for everyone, even older children and young adults, who sometimes slip off for a wee drink. (Did you know that the second group most in danger of drowning is young men?).

Discipline and training help children understand the boundaries (not just physical) that parents expect of them. Even young children can start to understand these, especially if they are consistent and clear from the outset.

Swimming lessons were another obvious consideration, and no doubt could help prolong a younger child’s ability to stay afloat when in difficulty. Flotation devices were discussed, and although these are great in assisting any child, an adult needs to fit them first - which implies that they are aware that their child is heading into the pool.

Alarms and motion detectors were suggested. It is imperative that these are considered not as monitoring devices for when the kids are swimming, but as alerts if the kids aren’t supposed to be outside but have somehow made their way into the pool area. However, a toddler can drown silently in seconds, so video surveillance may not prove a reliable back-up at all.

Pool covers were suggested, and implemented, by several people. However, another contributor found their child trapped under a pool cover that was not properly fitted.

Fully compliant, functional and properly-used pool fencing is an obvious defence against drowning. We know that. But vigilance and communication with everyone responsible for the welfare of our families is critical.

Swimming pools are a reality in our modern, affluent society – more so every day. We must try to take every precaution we can think of to protect our children, and never take our eyes off them around water. We hope that this article has been helpful in generating discussion about possible preventative measures that we can put in place to prevent drowning.

— Feb 15, 2017

Compliance and Safety

Sentrel Pool Balustrade.jpg

OK. You've got the pool fence. So you think you're safe?

Roughly 16 children under 5 years of age drown in backyard swimming pools across Australia each year. At Sentrel, it is our business to design pool fencing which is compliant with rigorous Australian Standards. As a part of our commitment to saving lives, we’ve been looking at why children continue to die in backyard pools, despite rigorous standards, ongoing swim-safety programs and increased public awareness.

Every year, the Royal Life Saving Society publishes an annual report summarising drowning statistics. They examine a range of variables including location, age, activity and other demographics, in a bid to clarify why people continue to drown in our waterways. Very young children are especially vulnerable, with most of them drowning in family pools. 

Pool fence legislation began to come into effect in the early 1970’s in South Australia. At that time, the incidence of childhood drowning had sky-rocketed with the popularity of fibreglass and temporary pools, and the subsequent upsurge of swimming pool installation in our country. As a result, it can be difficult to quantify the effectiveness of the increased awareness and legislation surrounding drowning in pools, since the affluence of our community has triggered a continuing growth of pool installation.

Also, although each incidence is tragic, the numbers are such that small annual differences look dramatically different when compared on a graph year to year. This year, for example, we have seen record-hot summers, and instances of sibling drownings, which will significantly affect the 2016 - 2017 figures when they are released. In the 1 – 5 age group, drowning is still the leading cause of accidental death.

Recently however, Cal Stanley, a respected consultant for the swimming pool standards industry, compiled data about drownings of under-5’s over the last 25 years.

Under5_Drowning_Chart-488x345.jpg

Source: Splash Magazine

This data indicates a 57 per cent decrease in drownings in this age group over the 25 years, against a 54 per cent increase in the estimated number of swimming pools in Australia. However, whilst the figures overall suggest a downward trend in deaths in relation to pool installations, the actual number of toddlers who drown is falling quite slowly overall, particularly since the year 2000.


Also, the Independent Review of NSW Swimming Pool Barrier Discussion Paper 2015, shows the correlation between near-drowning and actual drowning statistics. Unfortunately, it also indicates some growth in the near-drowning reports since 2009, despite the implementation of the various ‘Swimming Pools Amendment Acts’.

Graph.png

Source: Independent Review of NSW Swimming Pool Barrier Discussion Paper 2015

Are we to conclude that there are more instances of near-drowning or better reporting of these incidents? Perhaps this figure represents the life-saving benefits of increased CPR skills of, for example, the parents, who are generally the first on the scene, or even speedier response times by emergency personnel. What the graph does not show is the 30% increase in deaths in 2015, or, what is likely to be significant numbers for the upcoming annual report.

Cases of near-drowning often have significant repercussions, including ongoing respiratory and health issues, and mild to severe brain damage which can result in a permanent vegetative state. In the past year, the RLSS has added ‘non-fatal drowning’ as a key issue to the Australian Water Safety Strategy. No parent should have to watch this happen to their child.

After literally days of looking into the statistics, one thing has become absolutely clear. There is no substitute for responsible supervision. Young children can drown in very shallow water in moments - small ponds, inflatable pools, or even the bath - and this often happens silently. In fact, it is the lack of a child’s noises that commonly alerts parents to the problem.

Children drown in pools where lifeguards are on duty, while being supervised by older siblings (a practice we never recommend), or where several responsible adults are present, but where there is a lack of clarity as to who is ultimately responsible.

In cases of pool drowning in NSW in 2016, children most commonly gained access to the pool through a faulty fence or gate (38%), lack of a fence (31%) or a gate which was propped open (18%) (Source RLSS). This can be at their own home, at a home where other children use the pool, or at a trusted relative’s home which they regularly visit. Never assume another pool fence is a reliable barrier against access, or that other people take full responsibility for your child’s safety.

There can be no doubt that a fully-compliant and well-maintained pool fence, where the gate has not been propped open, is a dependable line of defence against this most devastating of tragedies.

At Sentrel, we are proud to design and build products which contribute solidly to help prevent drowning in young children. Our name developed from the word sentry – ‘a soldier stationed to keep guard or to control access to a place’.

But we do not claim to be the first line of defence.

Responsible supervision is the most important preventative against drowning. The Royal Life Saving Society of Australia describes this as ‘focusing all of your attention on your children all of the time, when they are in, on, or around the water. You must be within arm’s reach of your child and be ready to enter the water in case of emergency.’

Never take your eyes off your child, and be clear about which responsible adult is supervising. Teach your child water skills and impress upon them never to enter the water without an adult present. Follow our guidelines for ensuring that your pool area is safe.  

Further reading: Child deaths: drowning deaths in private swimming pools in NSW 

What are your thoughts about the Australia's stringent Pool Fencing Legislation? Please share your comments below.

 

— Jan 16, 2017

Take the Utmost Care with Pool Safety

There are few things in our lives which are likely to cause more sadness than the death of children, particularly when that death may have been preventable. Nothing causes more anguish than to lose a child.

Young children are the most vulnerable group when it comes to drowning in our backyard swimming pools, and many people are left wondering how such deaths can occur in the family home. It’s important to note, also, that for every death by drowning, five children are admitted to hospital with near-death injuries. Of these, one child will be left with severe or persisting brain damage.

Whilst adequate pool fencing is one solution to help prevent drowning, we note that it is – indeed – only a part of the solution. Queensland has the toughest pool fencing laws in the world, and yet children continue to drown in backyard swimming pools. Over the past 10 years, 148 children under five have drowned in backyard swimming pools in Australia. One quarter of those were in Queensland.

Councils in Australia continue to report that the vast majority of pools do not meet Australian Safety Standards, despite education and possible significant fines by local government inspectors. Many pools have no fencing, broken or damaged structures, or inadequate locking gates and devices. But even in cases where the pool fencing and closure mechanism is in perfect order, children continue to drown. This clip shows a child (still in nappies!) scaling a pool gate and opening it.

So, what can we do to prevent more children from drowning even when the pool fence and gate are compliant?

  • Constant, uninterrupted adult supervision is the key factor in preventing a child from drowning in a backyard pool. Whilst it can be difficult for parents who have more than one child to monitor, this is the most important action in preventing childhood drowning.
  • Never leave children to look after younger siblings. The responsibility is too great for any child to live with if the worst should happen.
  • Make sure that your pool fence is compliant and in good order, that there are no shrubs or climbable trees nearby and that (most importantly) the gate and latching mechanism work perfectly. Don’t assume that a pool in a house you are visiting is safe. Chances are, it isn’t.
  • NEVER leave the pool gate propped open. In 18% of drownings between 2002 and 2015 in NSW, access to the pool was through a gate that was propped open.
  • Don’t leave toys or other desirable items in the pool area after you have left. These things can tempt young children to try to find a way back inside the pool enclosure to get them.
  • Be vigilant with outdoor furniture or other climbable items. Children can drag these to the pool fence and use them climb over the fence or unlatch the gate. Indeed, the QLD laws were strengthened after the death of young Hannah Plint who did this very thing and died because of it.
  • Remember water safety extends to other devices that can contain water. Buckets, troughs and, especially, inflatable water pools. Over 100,000 of these are sold annually and require no legislation or safety accountability by law. Please be exceedingly careful, and empty any temporary water storage devices immediately when you have finished using them.
  • Finally, and we think most importantly, educate your children. Teach them to swim, and instruct them on the dangers of being near water, the possibility of falling in, and the importance of never venturing near water without a responsible adult.

Accidents happen, but never leave anything to chance when it comes to water safety. Most pool owners have a low regard for the safety of their own pool area, particularly if they don’t have children of their own, so never rely on someone else’s standards. Better to be hyper-vigilant that devastated.

Our hearts go out to any family touched by the tragedy of preventable drowning. 

Sentrel Pool Balustrade.jpg

 

— Dec 14, 2016

Introducing our newest product.

At Sentrel, we are constantly fine-tuning our designs and products with a view to making them the absolute best that we possibly can.

After releasing our powder-coated, aluminium balustrade and pool fencing just over 2 years ago, we wanted to come up with a solution for stair panels that worked seamlessly with the balustrade. It needed to be easy to manufacture, simple to install, and therefore keep the costs down for our customers.

After more than 2 years of design, creating prototypes and exhaustive testing, we are now thrilled to introduce a revolutionary product that we are incredibly proud of!

Our beautiful powder-coated flexible raked panel for stair balustrade has made installation of stair panels incredibly simple and cost-effective. By developing a unique stainless steel ‘knuckle’ located at either end of each panel, the entire unit can be raked easily to the angle of the stairs. The cables remain vertical and completely compliant. The knuckle is made from grade 316 stainless steel, which has outstanding corrosion resistance, particularly to pitting corrosion in chloride environments.

This makes designing a specific panel exactly for each job unnecessary, saving costs for you, and installation becomes very straightforward for your builder. Of course, the entire system matches the durability, strength and compliance that you have come to expect from Sentrel.

Our powder-coated aluminium stair panels can be ordered in a range of premium colours. Our vision is to introduce anodised aluminium products into our range in the near future…we’ll keep you posted!

If you have any other questions, contact Sentrel and we can help. You can reach us at 1300 658 330, email us at jen@sentrel.com.au or complete our online enquiry form.

— Aug 4, 2016

The Importance of Quality Pool Fencing in Australia

The addition of a pool to your home provides year-round fun in our beautiful Australian climate. If you are a pool owner however, there is a responsibility that you will ensure protection for others from the dangers that pools present. We recently reported on the consequences of defective or non-existent pool fencing and the dire effect it can lead to, especially for young children. Sentrel strongly advocate that the most important safety solution to your new pool area, is the fence that encloses it.
 

— Jun 10, 2016

Guide to Effective Pool Fencing & Safety

With drownings continuing to threaten our youngest population and their families, Sentrel want to help educate people on the importance of adequate pool fencing. We have designed our pool fences to meet Australian government requirements, and encourage families to learn how they can prevent risk of these fatal accidents.

— Mar 29, 2016

Design Tips to Consider When Buying a Balustrade

Whether you are redesigning an area of your home or building from scratch, balustrades are a consideration that must be factored in. Aside from meeting the necessary building regulations, balustrades can also be a standout feature and help add to the character of your home. We have some tips you should consider before purchasing a balustrade for your home, to ensure you will be happy with the end result.

— Feb 19, 2016

Comparing Horizontal and Vertical Wire Balustrades

One of the top reasons customers choose wire balustrades is because of how effortlessly they compliment your home, allowing fresh breezes to flow throughout your living spaces while preserving the beautiful Australian environment. But before you go ahead and purchase a wire balustrade for your home, it is best to learn about the differences between horizontal and vertical wire balustrades. This will ensure you choose the right option that you will be happy with for the long run, and will meet your lifestyle needs.  

— Feb 1, 2016

Building Regulations for Balustrades


When building a new home or adding an extension, it’s crucial to consider which regulations you need to follow. Although it seems like a hassle at the time, these regulations are made with the user’s safety in mind, and are best thought about before commencing the process, rather than during or after.