Annual 'Keep Watch' campaign offers safety checklist

KEEP WATCH: Annual Royal Life Saving Society Australia 'Keep Watch' campaign aims to end drowning deaths by asking parents and guardians to supervise, restrict, teach and respond. Photo: Shutterstock

KEEP WATCH: Annual Royal Life Saving Society Australia 'Keep Watch' campaign aims to end drowning deaths by asking parents and guardians to supervise, restrict, teach and respond. Photo: Shutterstock

According to data published by Royal Life Saving Society Australia, up to 40 per cent of drowning deaths among children under five involve one-year-old toddlers.

Figures have shown over the past 18 years, as many as 507 children aged zero to four years of age drowned and, for every fatal drowning in this age group, a further eight children were admitted to hospital following a non-fatal drowning.

Royal Life Saving's annual 'Keep Watch' campaign aims to remind parents and carers about the risks of drowning.

CEO at Royal Life Saving Society Australia, Justin Scarr, said the risk of drowning triples as soon as a child starts to crawl.

"At this age, they are curious and unpredictable. It is vital you keep constant watch," he said. "We are reminding parents that kids can't help themselves around water; you need to."

Mr Scarr said drowning deaths in young children are wholly preventable and hugely impact a family.

"We also know that children who survive a drowning incident often experience lifelong health issues, which in some cases, may lead to premature death.

"Royal Life Saving is asking all parents to 'supervise, restrict, teach and respond'," he said.

"It is also essential that people have well-maintained pool fences and pool gates that are checked regularly."

While pool fencing regulations vary between each state, pool owners are urged to double-check the standard of their fences as laws are continually updated to improve everyone's safety around water.

This includes:

  • The pool fence must be constructed from durable materials.
  • The top of the fence must be a minimum of 900mm away from climbable objects, including trees, barbecues, toys, pergolas and furniture.
  • Gate latches must be mounted pool-side.
  • Any gaps in the fencing must be less than 100mm.
  • Pool fencing must be a minimum height of 1200mm.
  • Gates must be self-closing and swing away from the pool.

If you are unsure of the specific regulations relating to your state, your licensed builder or pool fence installer can confirm any questions or doubts you may have.

Mr Scarr said the Royal Life Saving's 'Keep Watch' campaign had made significant inroads to reduce drowning since it was launched nearly 30 years ago.

"[But] we know that implementing simple safety measures and changing pool safety behaviours can realise our vision of zero child drowning deaths," he said.

For more information on pool safety, visit royallifesaving.com.au.

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