Despite the many safety warnings issued to supervise anyone in the water, empty splash pools, bathtubs, pet water bowls, and ensure pool fences are closed properly, we are still seeing reports of drownings make headlines each year.
And now in a new campaign from Royal Life Saving, people are being reminded to not forget about a particular age group.
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A blunt warning to parents
The ‘Keep Watch’ campaign has issued a blunt warning to parents of children aged one year and above.
“Children are at their most vulnerable to drowning when they start walking, so from around their first birthday,” Justin Scarr, CEO of Royal Life Saving Australia, tells Kidspot.
“Tragically, we see a huge spike in one-year-olds drowning that doesn’t reduce until they children turn four years, by which point many have developed swimming skills.”
Sadly, many parents and carers are under the impression that the youngest children are the ones who need to be watched like a hawk while the toddlers and preschoolers, who might’ve begun their swim lessons and learnt some basic skills like swimming to the edge for safety, are at less risk.
While it’s important to supervise children of all ages, the new campaign serves as a harsh reminder for all parents to not forget about those mischievous and curious toddlers.
“Once children have basic swimming skills, we strongly urge parents to keep watch and stay within arm’s reach, irrespective of whether they are swimming in a pool, splashing in the shallows at the beach or lake,” Justin says.
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40% of children who have drowned are one years old
The sad statistics highlighted in the campaign show that 549 children aged between 0-4 year years have drowned nationally over the past 20 years, with 40 per cent of those being just one year old.
Queensland has recorded the highest cases of drowning in Australia with 184 children lost followed by New South Wales with 164 children drowned.
Research has also found a total of 282 children aged 0 – 4 years have lost their lives in a swimming pool between 2002 and 2022.
Drowning remains one of the leading causes of accidental death for this age group.
“As children become more mobile, they are curious and unpredictable. It is vital you keep constant watch and restrict access to water around the home. We are reminding parents that ‘Kids can’t help themselves around water, you need to. Keep Watch,” Justin insists.
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The biggest mistake parents make
When supervising children swimming – whether it be in a backyard swimming pool, nearby lake or beach – there is one common and crucial error adults make.
According to Justin, it’s supervising… until we get distracted by something.
“The biggest mistakes parents make are connected to distractions that create lapses in supervision,” he shares.
“Getting lost in social media or tending to another child can be enough for children to slip into the pool, quickly and silently.”
Before tending to one child, it is advised to ensure any other child who remains in the water is being watched. And if the distraction means you need to leave the area completely, ensure that all children leave with you and that the fence closes properly behind all parties.
“Life can be busy, but pool maintenance at this time of year is critical. Now is the best time to ensure that the pool fence and gate are in good working order,” Justin adds.
Read related topics:SafetySafety Warnings