Water Safety – Staying Safe this Summer

Between 1 July 2019 to June 2020, 248 people drowned in Australian waterways, according to the National Drowning Report 2020 published by Royal Lifesaving Australia. The report findings show that:

  • The total number of drowning deaths over the past year decreased by 8% on the previous year;
  • People aged 25 to 34 years accounted for 17% of the total number of drowning deaths, the most of any age group;
  • Despite still being the leading location for drowning, deaths in rivers and creeks decreased by 32%, compared with the 10-year average;
  • There was a 52% decrease in drowning deaths among children aged 0-4 years, compared with the 10-year average

For every drowning, there are another three children admitted to hospital following a near-drowning accident.

Water safety at the pool

While spending time in the pool is great summertime activity for kids, statistics show that half of the children under five who drown do so in private swimming pools or spas.

Royal Life Saving Society Australia report that “the lack of direct adult supervision is the main factor in 70% of toddler drowning deaths”. So whether you have a pool at home or are visiting friends or family with a pool, it’s essential to keep kids safe by:

Never leave children in the pool unsupervised. Constant supervision by a competent adult means constant visual contact and being within arm’s reach of a non-swimmer, not being distracted by anything e.g. ringing phones and doorbells, and being ready to respond quickly.

Where there is a group of children involved with the water, enough competent adult supervisors need to be appointed.

Teaching children that there must always be an adult with them in the pool area and familiarising young children with water and teaching them to swim, particularly if you have a pool at home.

Making sure your pool has a compliant safety fence, which conforms to the Australian Standards, and a resuscitation chart clearly displayed in the pool area.

Water safety at the beach

Check out the surf conditions before you head out to the beach.

Visit patrolled beaches and always swim between the flags.

Take young children to rock pools to swim or paddle, as they provide an enclosed, shallow area away from the surf.

Download the Beachsafe app(https://beachsafe.org.au/apps) which provides detailed information for every Australian beach, including patrol status, facilities, hazards, weather, swell and tide. Available in 72 languages.

Be prepared

In immersion incidents, every second counts. Having an emergency action plan in place can reduce panic and save vital time. In the case of an emergency, dial 000 for an ambulance. The operator will ask you some important question, including:

  • The address where the ambulance is required
  • What has happened
  • How many people are injured
  • The patient’s age
  • The patient’s gender
  • If the patient is conscious
  • If the patient is breathing
  • The operator may provide you with advice to assist the patient while you are waiting for the ambulance

It is important that you do not hang up until the operator tells you to. You may have to hold the line while an ambulance is dispatched If you haven’t already done so, revise, refresh or enroll yourself in a CPR course so you are prepared in case of an emergency.