When the warm weather arrives, it is second nature for us to get the kids into the great outdoors and enjoy the sunshine. Parks, beaches, pools, or even just the sprinkler in the backyard, water is an integral part of the quintessential Australian summer.
We must remain vigilant around water, especially when there are little ones around. In children aged 0-4 years, accidental falls into water is the leading activity prior to drowning for this age group. But what about the other children who survived? For every child aged 0-4 years who drowned in Australia, 8 more were hospitalised with non-fatal but serious injuries. These injuries include life-changing disabilities including brain damage.
We cannot forget about other areas of water too – bathtubs, lakes, rivers, spas and inflatable pools are all areas that we need to be actively watching our kids.
We just can’t let our little ones out of our sight around water. It only takes 5cm of water and 20 seconds for a child to drown. Have you checked your home for water hazards?
Some things that you can do around your home to prevent drowning include:
- Tip out inflatable pools after use
- Take the plug out if the bath as soon as the kids get out of the bath
- Ensure pool fencing and gates are in good working order and meet all council requirements and Australian standards
- Keep nappy buckets off the floor and keep the lid on
- Go to the “Kids Alive: Do the Five” website and explore the resources for parents and teachers
- Enrol your kids in swimming lessons, and teach them rules around water
- Don’t rely on inflatable devices for safety
- NEVER take your eyes off them in or around water- even kids who can swim can drown
- Use ACTIVE supervision – don’t look at your phone when supervising the kids in the water, keep your eyes on them, not an occasional glance
- Keep under 5’s within arm’s reach and under 10’s clearly and constantly visible
Remember, children can drown even when they can swim, and when adults are present. If you are having a social gathering and there are kids in the pool, always allocate a pool ‘watcher‘ to oversee the pool area. Swap over ever 10 minutes or so. Make the allocated person wear a special hat or scarf and pass it on to the next watcher when their shift is over.
There is much more that we can do as parents to prevent drowning, however accidents can still happen. You MUST learn CPR – knowing how to resuscitate is a skill that every parent and carer must-have.