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Keep Watch to keep children safe around water

Springtime safety message from Royal Life Saving urges parents to actively supervise children around water and ensure pool fences and gates are in working order

Royal Life Saving research shows that while child drowning deaths have continued to drop over the past 20 years, non-fatal drowning among children aged 0 to 4 years remains a concern. For every toddler drowning death, eight children are admitted to hospital as a result of non-fatal drowning, many of whom suffer lifelong medical consequences, which can shorten their life and place great emotional and financial strain on their families.

Most child drowning incidents occur in backyard swimming pools, usually at the child’s own home.

As the weather starts to warm up, Royal Life Saving is therefore asking parents not to be complacent about their child’s safety around water. It says water is only safe while you’re watching and leaving children unattended by water can have tragic consequences.

Royal Life Saving Society – Australia CEO, Justin Scarr, said “As we head into spring and summer, we are asking parents to Keep Watch of their little ones to ensure everyone can enjoy the water and water-related activities with family and friends safely.”

Royal Life Saving research over the years has shown that active adult supervision had either lapsed or was entirely absent in almost all cases of child drowning. Inadequate pool fencing was also found to be a major contributing factor in the rate of drowning in backyard swimming pools among children under 5 years of age.

“We know people lead busy lives and it is easy to get distracted – our work shows that household chores, such as putting the washing out or checking on dinner, were the number one cause of a lapse in supervision in the lead up to the deaths of nearly 450 children who drowned in Australia over a 15-year period. No task is worth your child’s life. Continual active adult supervision is essential in preventing children drowning in the home.

“This means young children must be within arm’s reach when in, on or around the water, and they should not be left in the care of older siblings who may not be able to supervise them properly. If supervision fails, barriers such as a fully functional and well-maintained pool fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate will prevent children gaining access to water unaccompanied."

Royal Life Saving’s Keep Watch campaign, which provides information and resources on how to keep children safe around water, has been actively working to prevent toddler drowning deaths for over 25 years. More information is available online at

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