12 Australian children aged 0-4 years drowned last year-many more were injured

With the arrival of summer and holiday celebrations only weeks away, Kidsafe Victoria has urged families throughout Australia to ensure water safety is kept front of mind, in a bid to reduce the number of toddler drowning deaths and injurues. 

The call comes as thousands of families look forward to backyard pool parties and BBQ’s over the holidays, with restrictions continuing to ease.

Despite significant reductions over time, drowning continues to be one of the leading causes of accidental death for Australian children under 5 years of age.

Figures from the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia show that in the last financial year, 12 Australian children aged 0-4 years of age drowned. Swimming pools were the leading location where these incidents occurred, accounting for 50% of all toddler drowning deaths.

Children drown quickly and silently, which is why it is vital that they are actively supervised by an adult at all times when in or around water. For toddlers, this means having an adult within arm’s reach.” says Jason Chambers, General Manager of Kidsafe Victoria

While it can often seem that there is extra supervision at backyard BBQ’s and pool parties when there are lots of adults around, Kidsafe Victoria warns that this isn’t always the case.

“At busy pool parties and BBQ’s, it can often be easy to think that someone else is actively supervising the kids when in fact, nobody is,” said Mr Chambers.

“To ensure children are actively supervised at all times, particularly when they are in and around water, it’s important to have designated supervisors whose role it is to watch the kids – this role can be shared throughout the day to ensure everyone has a chance to relax.”

As part of their annual ‘Safe Barriers Save Lives’ backyard pool safety campaign, Kidsafe Victoria is also reminding home pool owners about the other important actions which should be included in their backyard pool defence, to help keep their families safe.

Kidsafe Victoria’s summer pool safety tips:

  • Children need to be actively supervised by an adult in and around water at all times. For toddlers, this means having an adult within arms’ reach.
  • Appoint designated supervisors at BBQ’s and pool parties whose role it is to supervise the kids in and around the pool. This role can be shared throughout the day so that everyone gets a chance to enjoy the festivities.
  • Ensure that your pool barrier is secure and in proper working order.
  • Never prop the pool gate open, this allows children easy and often unsupervised access to the pool area.
  • Learn CPR and update your skills regularly. Resuscitation signs are a good reminder to be kept near pools.
  • Toddlers can drown in as little as a few centimetres of water, so be mindful of other potential outdoor water hazards including eskys with melted ice, wading/inflatable pools and ponds

Common non-compliance issues with pool barriers:

  • Gates and doors that don’t self-latch or self-close
  • Climbable objects near the barrier e.g. pot plants, chairs, BBQ’s or pool pumps which could allow a child to climb over the barrier
  • Excess space under the barrier, and;
  • Misuse e.g. propping the pool gate open
  • To download a comprehensive pool safety checklist, please visit Kidsafe’s ‘Safe Barriers Save Lives’.