Water is a big part of the Australian lifestyle and with plenty of hot days still to come it is important to continue to remain vigilant when children are around water. Drowning is the most common cause of preventable death for Australian children aged between 0-4 years. Figures from the Royal Life Saving Society WA Drowning Report 2014/15 show there were two toddler drowning deaths recorded and also that 40 children aged 0-4 were hospitalised for a non-fatal drowning.
Children are naturally attracted to water, they have little fear and no understanding or awareness of its danger. The biggest risk for toddler drowning is the home swimming pool, however there are a number of other high risk locations including the bathtub, fishponds, dams and buckets.
Adequate adult supervision and vigilance around water is key to preventing the risks of toddler drowning. Children should be supervised around any depth of water and this should be constant and within arm’s reach. If you are at gatherings where there are a number of adults or children, allocate a responsible adult to take charge of the supervision of children and ensure everyone knows who this is.
If no one is available to supervise children then restrict access to water locations, for the home swimming pool ensure fencing is in good condition, the gate is in good working order and never propped open and there is nothing children can use to climb the fence. Empty out any other water locations as soon as you are finished with them, these include the bathtub, buckets and paddle pools.
Parents and carers are often the first person on the scene in an emergency involving children. Completing a first aid course or updating your skills could help reduce the seriousness of injury in an emergency.
Toddler drowning is preventable therefore teaching children the rules around water and swimming skills are important, however these do not remove the need of adequate adult supervision.
For more information on how you can reduce the risk of toddler drowning take a look at our Water Safety Fact Sheet http://www.kidsafewa.com.au/fact-sheets-at-home.