Water is only safe while you’re watching. This summer, Royal Life Saving is urging parents not to be complacent about their child’s safety around water. In conjunction with the #KeepWatch program, Royal Life Saving Australia has launched new research to help ensure parents and carers remain even more vigilant as the weather warms up.
The statistics below reflect the tragic impact that drowning has had on toddlers over the past 15 years:
- 461 children under the age of five died due to drowning in Australia over the past 15 years (Between 1 July 2002 and 30 June 2017), an average of 31 per year. Of these, half were in home pools and spas. Active adult supervision had either lapsed or was entirely absent in all cases
- A NSW study of child drowning deaths in home swimming pools over the last 15 years, showed that in 62% of cases, the child gained access to the pool area through a faulty fence or gate, or a gate which had been deliberately propped open, allowing the child to enter the pool area unaccompanied.
- In 100% of child drowning cases in home swimming pools, active adult supervision had either lapsed or was entirely absent.
- For every toddler drowning death approximately ten children are admitted to hospital as a result of non-fatal drowning. Although they survive, many suffer lifelong consequences.
- Almost half (46%) of toddler drowning deaths in home pools occurred in summer, and one fifth (21%) occurred on a Sunday
Michael and Jo-Ann Morris know the tragedy that can come from a faulty pool fence. Their two-year old son, Samuel slipped through a broken pool fence panel while his mother was doing the washing.
Jo-Ann found Samuel in the pool and gave her son CPR with the support of neighbours and emergency services. Samuel survived the tragic accident but sustained a severe brain injury, requiring long term medical care. After a brave eight-year battle, Samuel passed away in 2014 as a result of his injury. With the weather warming up, and summer expected to deliver one of the hottest on record, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia CEO Justin Scarr says, “Australians are comfortable around water. Many have grown up swimming in the backyard pool, going to the beach, playing with the garden sprinkler, or paddling down the river. This familiarity means that parents can, let their guard down, even if just for a moment, complacency can lead to disaster.”
“Water is only safe when you’re watching. Distractions like answering the phone, attending to another child, or ducking inside to grab something can have tragic consequences if a toddler is left unattended by water.”
“Actively supervise children around water, check your pool fence and gate, and never prop the pool gate open. Swimming lessons are great, but they are no substitute for active supervision and a pool fence in good working order.”
The campaign is the latest initiative of Royal Life Saving’s Keep Watch program, aiming to prevent drowning deaths of children under the age of five. The four Keep Watch messages for parents and careers are; constant adult supervision, restrict access to water, teach children water safety, learn how to resuscitate, and above all, always keep watch.
Royal Life Saving’s Keep Watch program offers resources and educational programs including First Aid training and swim safety lessons to reinforce the four key drowning prevention actions – restrict access to water, teach children water safety, learn how to resuscitate, and above all, always keep watch.
Pool owners and parents are encouraged to always actively supervise kids when using the household pool, using the below guide to assure safety.
- Be Prepared – Always make sure you have everything ready when going swimming e.g. towels, goggles, dry clothes, drinking water
- Be Close – Always be within arm’s reach of your child/children
- All of Your Attention – Focus all of your attention on your child/children and watch, talk and play with them when they are in the water
- All of The Time – Never leave your child alone in the water, nor should they be left in the care of an older child