Summer is the season for many of us to relax and spend time with family, and often that means having fun in or around water.
Unfortunately, summer is also the peak time for drownings in Australia, with water related injuries, accidents, and drownings all too common in the summer months.
Sadly, Life Saving Victoria reports that fifteen children aged up to 14 years drowned in Victoria from July 2020 to June 2021. This is a stark increase on the 10-year average of four child drowning deaths per year. Children can drown quickly and silently, it takes as little as 20 seconds and a few centimetres of water.
However, it is important to remember that drownings or near drownings are preventable, and there are some simple but important steps we can take when children are near water to help keep them safe in the summer months, and all year round.
Always ensure children are supervised around water
Active supervision is crucial when children are around water. Even if kids can swim, an adult should always be actively supervising, and that means watching constantly and not allowing ourselves to be distracted by things like phones or answering the door. Kids under five should always be within arms’ reach, and children under 10 must be clearly and constantly visible and directly accessible.
Restrict kids access to water
Many drownings in Australia occur around the home, in places such as swimming pools or bathtubs. In Australia, it is illegal for pools and spas to not be fenced off with a childproof safety barrier. If kids are playing with water in things like paddling pools or the bath, always empty the water as soon as the play session has finished and make sure to keep a close eye on kids around fountains, fishponds and even fish tanks. If you can’t empty the water, cover it with a suitable material or put items away and out of reach. It’s a good idea to regularly check around the home for risks like broken pipes and open drains too.
Learn first aid and resuscitation
Do you know how to respond if your child needs CPR? Its always a good idea for parents and carers to do a first aid course that covers infant and child CPR in case of emergency. If it’s been a while since you last did any training, it’s a good idea to update those first aid skills every three years and check your CPR skills annually.
Increase water awareness and safety
Swimming and water safety lessons are a great way to build kids familiarity and confidence around water using play, rule setting and discussing water safety for a variety of locations like the pool, beach or around lakes, rivers and dams.
With just a few sensible precautions, we can all help kids stay safe and sound around water and create some great memories for the future.
For some more information to help keep kids safe around water, view our list of resources below:
- Kids Health Info fact sheet: Safety: Bath time
- Kids Health Info fact sheet: Safety: Swimming pools
- Kids Health Info fact sheet: Safety: Holidays and at the beach
- Dr Margie: How to keep your kids safe around water this summer
- The RCH National Child Health Poll: Summer safety
- The RCH National Child Health Poll: Spotlight on Summer Safety
- Download our Water Safety poster in these languages: Arabic, Burmese, Chin (Hakha), Chinese, Dari, English, Karen, Khmer, Persian, Punjabi and Vietnamese
- Royal Life Saving Society Australia: Keep watch
- Live Saving Victoria: Summer safety
- Life Saving Victoria: Water safety at home