Keep Watch: Always Supervise Children near Water
With Summer holidays fast approaching and families gathering at local beaches and swimming pools, it is a timely reminder to keep watch whenever children are near water. Unfortunately, around 22 children lose their lives to drowning in Australia each year. These deaths are preventable with active adult supervision.
Toddlers aged 1-4 years are most at risk because they are fast moving, adventurous and do not understand water safety. Parents think that children will splash and yell when they are struggling but drowning occurs quickly and silently. A child’s airway can fill with water in less than 20 seconds, preventing capacity to call out.
Active supervision requires you to have your full attention on your child when they are near, around or in water. Avoid distractions like smart phones. Always ensure you are within an arm’s length of toddlers, so you can intervene quickly.
Flotation devices or leaving small children in the care of older children does not replace adult supervision. Older children also require your full attention when near, in or around water.
Other steps you can take to ensure your children’s safety around water:
1. Restrict children’s access to water. Ensure gates to pools or spas are securely closed and meet NSW Standards (visit swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au for more information). Make sure there are no chairs or pot plants nearby for children to climb and gain entry. Empty all buckets, containers, and wading pools immediately after use as young children can drown in as little as 5cm depth.
2. Learn and regularly refresh your cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills. You can access a free online course at kidshealth.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/cpr-resuscitation. You can also download, print, and display resuscitation posters to keep as a reminder around pools and spas.
3. Enrol your children in water familiarisation or swimming lessons so they can start to develop their understanding of water safety from an early age.