My first daughter was born in 1991, and was I an overprotective mother? Yes! When she started to walk and crawl I used to dread taking Emma to visit Granny. Not that we didn’t love granny, we adored her, but she had a house where two sliding doors led to a deck that surrounded an unfenced above-ground pool. Councils were not that worried about pool fencing in those days, but this mother was! I rarely would leave Emma with Granny, because I knew no one would watch her as carefully as her father and I would. To appease me, Granny put up a couple of those portable child barriers you can buy to prevent children falling down stairs. Was this adequate? Absolutely not! I am pleased to say neither of my children had an incident at that pool, but it sends shivers up my spine knowing now how dangerous backyard pools can be.
I’m very pleased to share the Royal Life Saving Australia’s message that ‘water is only safe while you are watching”.
In conjunction with the Keep Watch program, Royal Life Saving Australia has launched new research to help ensure parents and carers remain even more vigilant as the weather warms up.
If you read the frightening drowning statistics on toddlers over the past 15 years, you will understand why this is such an important message.
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
I remember reading the story about Michael and Jo-Ann Morris whose two-year-old child, Samuel, suffered a severe brain injury because he gained access to the water through a faulty pool fence 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. Although Samuel survived, eight-years on he passed away in 2014 as a result of his injury. This is a tragic story, and you can only imagine what Jo-Ann went through dealing with how this happened.
The message is don’t be distracted; the phone can wait, if you need to grab something inside take your children with you and never take your eyes off toddlers near a pool.
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
21% of drowning deaths in home pools occurred on a Sunday
A quarter (25%) of drowning deaths in home pools occurred in the afternoon
Children 0-4 Years Drowning State and Territory Breakdown
In the 15 years between 1 July 2002 and 30 June 2017:
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
8 children aged 0-4 years have drowned in the ACT
4 of these occurred in home swimming pools
New South Wales (NSW)
148 children aged 0-4 years have drowned in NSW
90 of these occurred in home swimming pools
Northern Territory (NT)
10 children aged 0-4 years have drowned in the NT
5 of these occurred in home swimming pools
148 children aged 0-4 years have drowned in QLD
67 of these occurred in home swimming pools
South Australia (SA)
25 children aged 0-4 years have drowned in SA
12 of these occurred in home swimming pools
5 children aged 0-4 years have drowned in TAS
2 of these occurred in home swimming pools
55 children aged 0-4 years have drowned in VIC
19 of these occurred in home swimming pools
Western Australia (WA)
62 children aged 0-4 years have drowned in WA
32 of these occurred in home swimming pools
Visit www.keepwatch.com.au for more information and resources.