Over the last 10 years in NSW, almost 100 children under the age of 5 have tragically lost their lives to drowning, making drowning one of the leading causes of preventable death in the 0-4 age group. Backyard swimming pools are the number one location for toddler drownings in Australia with 78% occurring as a result of falls into water. Royal Life Saving Society NSW is committed to preventing toddler drownings and therefore urges parents/carers Keep Watch to ensure your child’s safety.
Keep Watch consists of 4 simple steps designed to ensure your child is kept safe when in, on or around water.
- RESTRICT ACCESS
- WATER AWARENESS
All Of Your Attention, All Of The Time
Active supervision means focusing all of your attention on your children all of the time, when they are in, on or around the water. Supervision is not an occasional glance while you are busy with other activities, but being in constant visual contact with your child.
Depending on your child’s age, you may even need to be in the water and within arms’ reach at all times. For older children, be ready to enter the water in case of an emergency.
Never leave an older child responsible for supervising a younger sibling.
Around The Water Or Around The Child
Restricting a child’s access to water is an effective way of preventing drowning. This includes restricting your child’s ability to access any body of water including backyard swimming pools, spas, buckets, bath tubs, dams, tanks, fish ponds, inflatable pools etc.
Restricting access to these areas can be done through placing a barrier around the water i.e. through a properly installed fence that self-closes and self-latches, using secure pool/spa/tank covers, placing mesh on water features and fish ponds and lids on nappy buckets. Note: Inflatable pools over a depth of 300mm need to be fenced by law.
Alternatively, placing a barrier around the child can also be effective on larger properties such as farms. This may take the form of a Child Safe Play Area that can be used inside or outside the home.
Building Familiarity And Confidence
Water familiarisation, checking for and removing water hazards, setting rules around water and discussing water safety with your child are just some of the simple steps you can take to help increase your child’s water awareness.
Bath time can be a great time for water awareness. Let your child feel, experience and play with water. When visiting new aquatic locations you can examine these together with your child and discuss any safety issues and rules for that location with your child.
Classes, such as Royal Life Saving’s Swim and Survive Wonder Program, focus on the gradual introduction of very basic skills for children aged 6 to 36 months like moving in the water, getting the face wet and blowing bubbles. The next step is the Courage program which teaches water confidence to children aged 3 to 5 years, followed by learn to swim classes from the age of 5.
Everyone Can Be A Lifesaver
A family member is the first person on the scene in most emergency situations. In fact many children are alive today because their parents knew how to perform CPR and responded quickly. Having the skills to respond in an emergency situation can mean the difference between life and death. Resuscitation or Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) involves stimulating the heart and breathing air into the lungs to preserve or restore life.
Royal Life Saving NSW encourages everyone to learn resuscitation skills and become a community life saver.
To date Royal Life Saving has developed a range of programs targeted at locations with specific aquatic hazards:
Drowning can occur quickly and silently. Always KEEP WATCH to prevent your child from drowning.