Survey highlights lack of CPR training amongst WA parents

13 August 2021

For more than 25 years, Keep Watch has been advising Australian parents and carers about how to keep their children safe when in and around water. Each year Royal Life Saving WA works with Curtin University to survey parents and carers and analyse their understanding of our Keep Watch messages and how well they are understood across the community.

The most recent research, a study of 350 Western Australian parents and carers, has just been released and contains some very pleasing information, along with some areas of concern. Most worrying is the fact that less than a quarter of parents had completed CPR training in the past 12 months, leaving them potentially at-risk should they need to respond to a drowning incident.

Research shows that CPR skills degrade over time withs studies showing that two months after doing your training, there is a 50% decrease in CPR skills, while after three years, only 2% of people can perform CPR effectively. It’s recommended that CPR certificates are updated every 12 months to ensure your skills are as current as possible. This is especially important for parents and carers as they are most likely to be the first person on scene when a child is involved in a drowning incident. Royal Life Saving WA urges all parents and carers of young children to book in for an annual refresher so they can be confident to respond should their child need them to!

The study also found that around 26% of respondents agreed backyard pools are safe as long as they're fenced. While having a fence in place is the first step towards backyard pool safety - and the law – parents still need to make sure they're regularly checking their home pool barriers to ensure they are appropriately used and maintained.

Worryingly 38% of respondents believed that it's better to develop a toddler's swimming ability rather than rely on constant adult supervision. While it is recommended that toddlers attend Infant Aquatics water familiarisation classes there is no substitute for adult supervision. Even toddlers who can swim may not put those skills into place if they fall into water unexpectedly. Drowning data shows that most childhood drowning incidents happen when a child is not expected to be in the water, may be wearing clothes and is unprepared for swimming.

Some of the most positive results from the survey included the fact that 89% of parents knew that children are at risk of drowning even when adults don't expect them to be around water, while over 90% knew that supervising a child within arm's reach is the best way to prevent drowning. Royal Life Saving WA urges all parents and carers of children to follow the four Keep Watch principals at all times to protect their children. These include:

  • Supervise - Always keep watch of your child around water
  • Restrict - Restrict your child's access to water at all times
  • Teach - Teach your child to be water confident
  • Respond - Learn CPR and call Triple Zero (000) in an emergency