Keep Watch Campaign 2020 kicks off ahead of summer

PREVENT: Royal Life Saving - Australia's new Keep Watch Campaign kicks off in time for summer. Photo: Supplied
PREVENT: Royal Life Saving - Australia's new Keep Watch Campaign kicks off in time for summer. Photo: Supplied

A peak life saving body has issued a strong message to Australians this summer in a bid to turn the tables on recent data which reveals 41 per cent of drowning deaths among children under five in the nation occur in one-year-olds.

Sadly, research figures published this month by Royal Life Saving Australia also show that over the past 18 years in Australia, 507 children aged babies to four-years drowned.

For every fatal drowning in this age group, a further eight children are admitted to hospital following a non-fatal drowning, data highlighted.

Alarmingly, the majority of deaths in children, aged babies to four-years occur in backyard swimming pools with 39 per cent occurring during the summer months.

Accidental falls into water was the leading activity prior to drowning in this age group, accounting for a huge 78 per cent of all deaths, and almost all of these deaths were due to a lack of active adult supervision, the report stated.

In response, Royal Life Saving's new Keep Watch Campaign kicks off in time for summer to remind parents and carers about the risks of child drowning.

Royal Life Saving Society - Australia CEO Justin Scarr said that the risk of drowning "triples" as soon as a child starts to crawl, peaking shortly after a child's first birthday, just as they start to become more mobile.

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

"Drowning deaths in young children are wholly preventable and have a huge impact on a family.

It is vital you keep constant watch. We are reminding parents that 'kids can't help themselves, so you have to'

Royal Life Saving Society - Australia CEO Justin Scarr

"We also know that children who survive a drowning incident often experience lifelong health issues, which in some cases, may lead to premature death. The emotional toll this has on children, their parents and carers is terribly sad."

Royal Life Saving urges all parents to Supervise, Restrict, Teach and Respond.

"Active adult supervision prevents child drowning," Mr Scarr said.

"Any distraction is dangerous and puts young children at risk around water. Whether it is a phone or social media use, or carrying out everyday tasks, such as leaving a child unsupervised momentarily to cook, take the rubbish out or collect the washing, no task is worth your child's life."

It is also urged that people have well maintained pool fences and pool gates that are checked regularly to make sure they are not faulty and never prop them open.

Since 2002, drowning deaths in children aged under five have decreased by 74 per cent, but drowning remains one of the leading causes of accidental death in this age group.

"Royal Life Saving's Keep Watch campaign has made significant inroads in helping to reduce drowning in young children 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 added.

For more information about Royal Life Saving's Keep Watch campaign, visit www.royallifesaving.com.au

This story Swim campaign's powerful advice first appeared on Border Chronicle.