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Keep watch – no distraction is worth a child’s life

Happy child playing in swimming pool.You’re watching the children play in the pool.

You’re doing the right thing and actively supervising them. Your baby is happy splashing in the shallows – within arms reach. She stands up and … yuck … she’s starting to do a poo! You quickly grab her and run her inside to grab a new nappy and the wipes. The other kids should be right – the older one can watch the younger one. You’ll come back to change the nappy beside the pool so you can keep watching … you’ll only be gone a minute.

The thing is though – a minute is too long. Drowning happens in seconds and a simple distraction like a nappy change can cost a life.

It is not worth it.

Royal Life Saving Australia is highlighting this important message with their KEEP WATCH campaign this year.

The aim is to reduce the number of backyard drownings this summer – to make sure Aussie families keep watch NO MATTER WHAT, especially when kids are in or around backyard pool areas.

A NSW study of child drowning deaths in home swimming pools over the past 15 years, showed that in 62 per cent of cases, the child gained access to the pool area through a faulty fence or gate, or a gate that had been deliberately propped open, allowing the child to enter the pool area unaccompanied.

Parents Michael and Jo-Ann Morris know the tragedy that can arise from a broken pool fence. Their two-year-old son, Samuel slipped through a faulty pool fence panel while his mum was doing the washing.

Jo-Ann found Samuel in the pool and gave him CPR with the help of neighbours and emergency services. Samuel survived but sustained a severe brain injury, which required long-term medical care. After a brave eight-year battle, Samuel passed away in 2014 as a result of his injury.

With the weather warming up, and summer expected to deliver one of the hottest on record, Royal Life Saving Society – Australia CEO Justin Scarr has warned Australians not to let their guard down around water.

“Australians are comfortable around water. Many have grown up swimming in the backyard pool, going to the beach, playing with the garden sprinkler, or paddling down the river,” he says.

“This familiarity means that parents can let their guard down, even if just for a moment. Complacency can lead to disaster.

“Water is only safe when you’re watching. Distractions like answering the phone, attending to another child, or ducking inside to grab something can have tragic consequences if a toddler is left unattended by water.”

Common scenarios that might cause parents to be distracted

  • Quickly going to the toilet
  • Checking the cricket score
  • Putting on the kettle
  • Checking the oven
  • Changing a nappy
  • Answering the front door
  • Writing a text message
  • Checking your emails

Royal Lifesaving Australia is urging people to:

  • Actively supervise children around water
  • Check your pool fence and gate and repair immediately if needed
  • Never prop the pool gate open
  • Remember, swimming lessons are great, but they’e no substitute for active supervision and a pool fence in good working order.

What is active supervision?

Active supervision has 4 key elements:

1. Preparedness – make sure you have everything you need including towels, swimmers, sunscreen, water, hats etc. Don’t leave the pool area for any distraction. If you need to leave take the children with you. Don’t leave supervision responsibilities to other siblings.

2. Proximity – within arms reach. Not looking through the kitchen window, or standing with friends around the BBQ. The best place is in the water together. If entertaining, appoint a supervisor and rotate the role through the day so active supervision is in place at all times.

3. All of your attention – don’t read a book or the tablet – keep constant supervision.

4. All of the time – it all happens in seconds. Seconds count so constant attention all of the time is paramount.

The Bub Hub is proud to support Royal Life Saving

Visit for more information and resources.

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2 comments so far -

  1. Was useful to read, thanks! I’m going to install new fence this year, I think it’s the only way to stay calm that my kids are safe



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