With Summer here, a lot of people find themselves using or near swimming pools, the beach and water holes. Dial-A-Doctor wants to ensure that you and your family are aware of water risks and remain safe and healthy.
Unfortunately, according to the Royal Life Saving Society, drowning is one of the leading risks of death in Australia. 276 people drowned across Australia from July 2018 to June 2019. 101 of these were in inland waterways and 31 in swimming pools. There were 122 coastal drownings from beaches, cliffs and offshore. Add to these an estimated 584 hospitalisations in that year due to non-fatal drowning incidents.
Swimming and recreating were the most common activity being undertaken at the time of drowning, followed by a fall into water and boating
63% of drowning deaths of children aged 0-4 occurred in swimming pools
Males continue to be overrepresented in coastal drowning figures with 87% being male in 2018/19
42% of coastal drownings occurred during Summer with most of these (58%) being at the beach
Supervision, teaching children to swim and having effective/compliant pool fencing can not only save lives but fencing is a legal requirement. Pool fencing requirements have changed greatly over the last few years. Fencing regulations vary from state to state therefore it is ideal that you review your state’s regulations. There are resources available on most state/council websites.
Additional pool safety devices can be used to reduce the risk of drowning. Gate alarms, pool alarms, motion detectors, pool covers, gate locks and life jackets have differing strengths and limitations which should be considered when determining if you should include them in your pool safety strategy. However, a well-maintained pool fence and active adult supervision is the most effective method for preventing children from drowning in backyard pools.
Enrol your children in a learn to swim and water safety program. Water safety skills are an integral part of swimming lessons for children. It helps children to develop confidence and be comfortable around water.
Pools and spas are not the only drowning hazards around the home. Buckets, baths, eskies, fountains, ponds, drains, large pet bowls and inflatable pools can be hazards. Always ensure these items are emptied, covered and securely stored.
Portable pools (inflatables, canvas or plastic-lined and wading pools) also present a risk of drowning or injury. Even with little water, it only takes moments for a child to drown. Owners are generally not aware that these pools (that are 300mm deep or more) are required to be fenced in most states and territories.
Pool toys (noodles, balls, kickboards, etc) are attractive to children who may try to get to them if left in a pool. Toys such as floaties and noodles can also make a child seem more competent in water than what they are. This may lead to a false sense of security for adults who are actively supervising. Always check the age and weight ranges when buying pool toys to ensure the child is not too old or heavy for the toy. Do not leave toys in a pool when not in use, deflate and securely store pool toys out of sight and reach of children.
By the Pool
- Check with your local council for fencing requirements
- Always actively supervise children within arm’s reach
- Don’t rely on older children to supervise younger children
- In a gathering setting, don’t assume someone is watching your children
- Don’t drink alcohol while supervising children around water
- Ensure small pools are emptied and stored after use
- Store small pools away from children, sprinklers and rain
At the Beach
- Check weather conditions
- Ideally swim at patrolled beaches
- Always swim between the flags
- Check for rip currents
- Don’t swim alone
Waterways & Recreational Activities
- Check weather conditions
- Check for submerged objects and debris
- Check currents
- Don’t swim alone
- Wear a life jacket
- Avoid alcohol around water
- Always carry safety equipment on watercraft and have regular maintenance checks
- Always let family or friends know where you are going and when you will be returning
A great resource is the http://www.watersafety.com.au/Home.aspx Australian Water Safety Council website.
If you and your family do have the unfortunate situation of a water-related injury or health emergency, you must seek urgent medical care by contacting 000 immediately.
From all of us here at DaD and our amazing team of home doctors across the country, let’s all always stay alert and enjoy our water recreation!