Zero toddler drowning deaths but no time to be complacent

19 November 2020

The latest drowning figures show that there were zero toddler drowning deaths recorded in WA during 2019/20. This is the first year since Royal Life Saving records began in the 1980’s that the state has recorded zero toddler drowning deaths.

Across our state the rate of toddler drowning deaths has halved over the last 10 years and Royal Life Saving WA’s Lauren Nimmo says these statistics are encouraging. “Zero toddler drowning deaths in WA for 2019-20 is an outstanding achievement and a positive step towards realising our vision of eliminating toddler drowning. This is a credit to the significant investment made into drowning prevention over a sustained period of time by government, the water safety sector and the WA community.”

Despite this good news, we’re reminding parents to not become complacent! Each year in WA 40 toddlers are admitted to hospital following a non-fatal drowning incident, many of whom sustain lifelong brain injuries as a result.

Royal Life Saving’s latest Keep Watch campaign, launching this summer, highlights the fact that toddlers are curious and unpredictable. It’s what we love about them, but it’s also the reason parents need to take precautions to keep them safe around water. Miss Nimmo says the campaign aims to remind parents and carers about the risks of child drowning. “The risk of drowning triples as soon as a child starts to crawl, peaking shortly after their first birthday, just as they start to become more mobile. Curious children can’t help themselves, they are just who they are while they’re learning about the world. This is the reason parents need to keep constant watch. This campaign reminds parents that ‘Kids can’t help themselves around water, so you need to’.”

The majority of drowning deaths in toddlers occur in backyard swimming pools (53%), during the summer months (39%). Almost all these deaths were due to a lack of active adult supervision at the time. Miss Nimmo says childhood drowning can happen very quickly. “The reality is that kids are most at risk of drowning during those times when parents aren’t expecting them to be around the water. Whether it be a pool, paddling pool, fishpond or dam, it often only takes a few minutes for a curious child to find their way to water while adults are distracted. Having simple safety measures in place can prevent these tragedies from happening.”

Kylie Parker knows all too well how quickly a child can find their way to danger. Her three-year-old son Jake tragically drowned in February 2019 after accessing their home pool through a gate that had been accidentally wedged open by a toy. Kylie says “By the time I realised that the gate wasn’t closed, it was too late. I’m speaking out to raise awareness of just how quickly and quietly drowning can happen and I urge parents to take supervision and safety of toddlers around water seriously. There are no words that can ever describe how much I love and miss my son on a daily basis. If I can save just one child, my son's death won’t have been for nothing.”

Royal Life Saving is asking all parents to Keep Watch around water, but also prepare for the unexpected. In the lead up to summer parents should check their pool fence and gate, empty out paddle pools, buckets and baths and update their CPR skills so they know what to do in an emergency.

Royal Life Saving’s Keep Watch public awareness recommends the following safety tips to keep children safe around water:

  • Supervise. Actively supervise children around water
  • Restrict. Restrict children’s access to water
  • Teach. Teach children water safety skills
  • Respond. Learn how to respond in the case of an emergency


You can learn more Keep Watch toddler drowning prevention tips at the link below.

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