Moving with the Times - Keep Watch at Public Pools


For over 20 years Royal Life Saving’s program Keep Watch @ Public Pools has been an integrated water safety program aiming to increase awareness of the strategies available to keep children safe in, on and around water, in public pools and aquatic facilities.


The long term aim of the program is to eliminate all drowning deaths and near drowning incidents. Short term, the program continues to increase awareness of strategies to keep children safe, change attitudes about safety at public swimming pools and raise awareness about preventative strategies.


The program has two main audiences. The first is the Industry; this involves Facility or Operation Managers right through to Lifeguards who are implementing safety systems to ensure all visitors are safe. The second audience is parents and carers. The parents and carers are responsible for the direct supervision of the children in their care whilst visiting aquatic facilities.


In a 10 year analysis of drowning in aquatic facilities: Communal, public and commercial swimming pools, between July 2005 and June 2015, 78 people drowned. Among the deaths of children aged 0-14 years, there was no parental or carer supervision in 78% of cases. [1]


Aquatic industry staff plays the vital role in educating the community about the safe use of aquatic facilities, water safety and drowning prevention in general, while parents and carers have a responsibility to look after their own children.

The Keep Watch at Public Pools Policy has 3 age groups:

  • 0-5 year olds and non swimmer: Parents must stay within arms’ reach

It is best for a parent or carer to be in the water with this age group. Playing and talking to them.

  • 6-10 year olds and weak swimmers: Parents must maintain visual contact

Active Supervision is required and parents and carers should be prepared to get wet with this age group

  • 11-14 year olds: Parents must maintain visual contact

It is recommended that parents and carers check up on their child by physically going to the point where they are in or around the water.


The Policy is in place for aquatic staff to help educate parents and carers of their responsibility. With the Keep Watch at Public Pool program holding steadfast in the aquatic industry and the education of water safety. Royal Life Saving has relaunched the program with an additional feature.


“Distractions are Dangerous: Avoid mobile phone and other distractions that interrupt supervision”. This is to combat the use of electronic devices and other potential distractions in and around the water where supervision should be priority.


Look out at your local aquatic facility for the new Keep Watch at Public Pools signage and other resources. Click here for further information.


[1] Mahony, A, Peden, AE, Roberts, C, Barnsley, P (2018) A 10 year analysis of drowning in Aquatic Facilities: Exploring risk at Communal, Public and Commercial swimming pools, Royal Life Saving Society - Australia