Splash parks have become a popular destination for families with young children, to enjoy water play, without having to go to a pool.
But health experts are warning the water at these parks can be contaminated with viruses due to the lack of regulation and rules that are mandatory for public pools.
NSW Health has found water at splash parks can rinse contaminants including faecal matter and bacteria into the water supply, which is transferred into the holding tank and dispersed through fountains or sprays in the splash park on other children.
There have been cases of diarrhoea outbreaks, caused from swimming in splash parks with contaminated water.
A draft legislation for splash parks has been written by Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, to ensure all splash parks are included in the regulations required for swimming pools and water parks.
Swimming pools have treatment systems in place to kill any bacteria that can get into the water. Sadly, splash parks don’t have to follow these regulations, which is causing young children to get very sick.
The Baird government is determined to ensure splash parks and water play areas are included in the swimming pool legislation.
Sadly, it’s a little too late for five-year-old Chelsea Fawcett from Perth, who has become blind in one eye after playing in a splash park.
A normal family outing turned into a nightmare when Chelsea’s eye got infected earlier in May this year after visiting Elizabeth Quay’s water park.
Jannah Fawcett, Chelsea’s mum, has shared how the infection has affected Chelseas’s life and their family.
“It has been an awful experience with Chelsea in hospital and now she has to wear an eye patch and may never get her normal sight back.”
“They should have tested that water, and not opened it before they knew it was safe,” Jannah told Perth Now.
The devastating consequences has sparked investigations into the water quality at splash parks. As the parks are rarely regulated, there have been reports from parents, seeing young children splash in the park with no swimming nappy. This can lead to nasty bacteria being shared in the water. Some kids will place their face over a stream of water and end up drinking the contaminated water.
No child should have to go through what Chelsea is right now.
But there are things parents can do to ensure the splash park is a safe place for all to play in.
If you’re keen to visit a splash park these school holidays, here are some tips to make sure the zone is safe for all.
- Find out how the water is sanitized at the splash park before you attend.
- Ensure your child is fully clean when heading to the splash park.
- Take your child on regular toilet breaks to avoid accidents in the splash park.
- Use swimming nappies on younger children to avoid a normal nappy from exploding due to water absorption.
- If your child has diarrhea, don’t take them to the park. If your kid has suffered gastro, wait a good three days before heading to the park. Gastro is contagious up to three days after a sufferer has become better.
- Tell kids not to swallow the water or close their eyes when placing their face over a jet stream.
- Do not eat around the splash park areas.
- Change nappies or soiled pants in bathrooms rather than at the splash zone.
Until splash parks are forced to take on regulatory guidelines, parents need to be vigilant about their child’s hygiene to ensure it’s a safe place for all.
The last thing a parent needs to deal with these summer school holidays, is having their kids come down with gastro.
It’s definitely not a gift that should be shared this Christmas.