Most of us enjoy spending time around water in the summer months, from heading to the beach to relaxing at home around the pool. But whether at home, visiting friends or family, or on holidays, it’s always important to keep safety in mind when near water, particularly for young children.
According to Water Safety Australia, 3116 lives were lost due to drowning from 2004/5 to 2014/15. That’s an average of 283 deaths each year.
Drowning is more common in:
- Children under five years of age (it is the number one cause of death in this age group)
- Those affected by alcohol and/or drugs (a factor in around one-third of drowning deaths)
- Males, who are four times more likely to drown than females
- Those from Cultural Linguistically Diverse Communities (CALD) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) backgrounds
With the support of the Royal Life Saving Society Australia, Surf Life Saving Australia, AUSTSWIM and the Australian Government, Water Safety Australia has a developed a comprehensive strategy aimed at reducing fatal drownings in Australia by 50% by 2020.
However, there are also things we can do to prevent drownings and to stay safe around water.
At the beach
Whether on holidays or just a day out, spending time at the beach is a popular summer activity for Australian families. Here are a few tips to stay safe at the beach:
- Check out the surf conditions before you head out
- Visit patrolled beaches and always swim between the flags
- Take young children to rock pools to swim or paddle, as they provide an enclosed, shallow area away from the surf
- Download the Beachsafe app (https://beachsafe.org.au/apps) which provides detailed information for every Australian beach, including patrol status, facilities, hazards, weather, swell and tide. Available in 72 languages.
At the pool
While spending time in the pool is great summertime activity for kids, statistics show that half of the children under five who drown do so in private swimming pools or spas.
For every drowning there are another three children admitted to hospital following a near-drowning accident.
Some of these are so serious they result in permanent brain damage. So whether you have a pool at home or are visiting friends or family with a pool, it’s essential to keep kids safe by:
- Making sure your pool has a compliant safety fence, which conforms to the Australian Standards and a resuscitation chart clearly displayed in the pool area
- Always watching children near water and keeping young children within arms reach
- Never leaving children in the pool unsupervised
- Teaching children that there must always be an adult with them in the pool area
- Familiarising young children with water and teaching them to swim, particularly if you have a pool at home
Know what to do in an emergency
The first few minutes in an emergency and can be the difference between life and death. Having first aid training is a good idea for everyone, but particularly for parents or carers of young children. Training is available through St Johns Ambulance, Royal Lifesaving Australia, Australian Red Cross and other registered first aid training organisations, or Westmead Children’s Hospital have a free online CPR Training for Parents (http://kidshealth.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/cpr) course.
For more information:
Download beach safety fact sheets
Download a swimming pool safety fact sheet