Aussies love the water, so it’s hard to imagine our Australia Day celebrations not taking place in and around any of our abundant, aquatic options.
However, if you are planning an Aussie Day do, near any body of water, please remain vigilant, as drowning doesn’t take a break … even on a national holiday.
According to the National Drowning Report, between July 2014 and June 2015, 271 drowning deaths occurred (including 26 children four years and under). Furthermore, 89 deaths took place in summer, with 36 people drowning in January, making it the biggest aquatic killing month of the year.
Drowning is still the number one cause of accidental child related deaths in Australia.
Often when frivolity is at the forefront, and alcohol is thrown into the mix, proper supervision is accidentally overlooked. While many may think a party environment – filled with adults – is a pretty ‘safe’ place for kids to swim, if children aren’t constantly supervised by a responsible adult, a drowning tragedy could result.
However, drowning hazards can be more than just an unsupervised backyard pool, a spa or any waterway; an esky is a potential drowning hazard if left unlatched and unattended with a reservoir of melted ice.
A few years ago, a little girl was found with her feet dangling from an ice chest and her face in its water; she simply wasn’t old or strong enough to push herself back out. If her parents hadn’t found her so quickly, she would have drowned – they were extremely lucky.
To help reduce drowning accidents, we suggest a designated supervisor must be assigned and know the whereabouts of all children at all times, especially when water is involved. The supervisor should be of adult age, possess good swimming skills, have a phone on hand for emergency use only, and they should know how to perform CPR in the event of an incident.
Other tips on staying vigilant around water include:
- Stay within arm’s reach of kids under six, and non-swimmers;
- Always supervise all pools and aquatic environments (including backyard wading pools and empty them immediately after use);
- Never prop the pool gate open, even for a moment – you could forget to close it, or a child could slip through unnoticed;
- Always abide by signs and authorities when swimming in public places;
- Ensure at least one resuscitation or CPR Chart is displayed permanently in the pool area; and
- Finally, if a child is missing, check the pool and other waterways first before checking in bedrooms, cupboards, and so forth; seconds count!
While we insist learn-to-swim lessons all year round are mandatory, especially for children, these simple tips could just help to save a life, and should be applied around any body of water.
Reduce the risk, swim SAFER and enjoy the holiday … because although Australians are often labeled ‘laid back’, when it comes to water safety, no matter the season, day of the week, or age of person, we simply can’t afford to be complacent.