Leading learn-to-swim and water safety authority, Swim Australia, is warning all Aussies to remain vigilant in and around water come Australia Day celebrations,“as drowning doesn’t take a break – even on Australia Day.”
Drowning is the number one cause of child related deaths in Australia.“Often when frivolity is at the forefront, and alcohol is thrown into the mix, proper supervision is 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,”
Swim Australia CEO, Ross Gage said. “Aussies love the water, so it’s not hard to imagine many Australia Day parties taking place around a pool, creek, ocean, river, dam, or even in the backyard by an inflatable paddle pool. “However, drowning doesn’t discriminate – accidents can and do happen, even on holidays, often when you least expect it, in a matter of seconds, and sometimes in complete silence,” Mr Gage added.
The authority insists, a designated supervisor must be assigned and know the hereabouts of all children at all times, they should be of adult age, possess good swimming skills, have a phone for ‘emergency use only’ on hand, and know how to perform CPR in the event of an incident.
“Never prop the gate open, even for a moment – you could forget to close it, and a child could slip through unnoticed. Always supervise a paddle pool and empty them immediately after use. Eskies full of ice and water are a big risk also to little children, so ensure they’re latched properly,” Mr Gage advised.
Last year, 31 children under the age of five, drowned – 61% of those deaths, occurred within swimming pools.
Mr Gage says, for every child who drowns, there are up to four children admitted to hospital, as a result of a non-fatal drowning incident; many of these children admitted, will experience some form of permanent brain damage resulting in lifelong disability.
Recently, Swim Australia and EnergyAustralia, launched the WaterHERO campaign (waterhero.com.au), reinforcing water safe practices, and the effective ‘Layers of Protection’.
The ‘Layers of Protection’ to be applied at all times in and around water include:
– Be Aware: Don’t let the kids out of your sight.
This is fundamental, and should be performed by a responsible adult. All nonswimmers
and children under five, must be supervised within arm’s reach.
– Be Secure: Keep fences and gates locked up tight.
Pool fences and gates need to be regularly inspected, maintained and meet
government requirements. Objects and potential climbing apparatuses like pot
plants and chairs, need to be removed.
– Be Confident: Learn to Swim, and how to get to safety.
Practicing such skills provides another layer of protection, but should never be
substituted for proper supervision and barriers.
– Be Prepared: Always have a plan in case of emergency.
Check the pool and other waterways first if a child is missing, then check bedrooms, cupboards etc.
Ensure your resuscitation skills are up to date, and permanently display at least one resuscitation or CPR Chart in the pool area.
“Any body of water could pose a potential risk, especially to those who can’t swim. Stay within arm’s reach, constantly supervise and swim SAFER this Australia Day,” Mr Gage concluded.