Prevent toddler drowning

The Keep Watch program has four key drowning prevention actions. These are designed to be used in combination and provide ‘layers of protection’ which means that if one action fails, the others will be in place to protect a child from drowning.

Supervise – always keep watch of your child in and around water

  • Supervision is the key Keep Watch message.
  • Adequate supervision means a responsible adult is within arm’s reach of children at all times. Supervision should be ‘eyes on’ and ‘hands on’ – it is not the occasional glance while you nap, read or do chores and it is not looking at children playing outside while you are inside the house.
  • Older children should not be left to supervise younger siblings around water. Children can become easily distracted and not notice something has gone wrong or they may think the toddler is ‘playing’ in the water and don’t call for help. Responsible adult supervision is always the best option.
  • If you must leave when your child is bathing or swimming, even if you will only for a short time, always take your child with you or remove them from the water and place them somewhere safe.
  • Don’t forget constant supervision is important around pools, bath tubs, buckets, fish ponds, dams, creeks and water features.

Prevent your child's access to water at all times

  • Creating a barrier between your child and a body of water is one of the most effective ways to prevent drowning. Pool fencing is the most common way to prevent access to water. In Western Australia, legislation requires all private pools to be fenced.
  • Pool fencing and gates must be used correctly to ensure they provide protection. Never leave pool gates propped open, regularly check there are no holes or damage and remove any items from around the fence that could be used to climb over the fence.
  • Think about ways to prevent access to other water locations- empty paddle pools and buckets after use and store upside down and water features and fish ponds can be covered with a strong mesh to prevent children falling in.
  • Inside the house, always keep bathroom, laundry and toilet doors closed and empty out baths and buckets immediately after use.

Learn - Teach your child to be water confident

  • Swimming is a big part of Australian culture and it is essential that children are familiar with the aquatic environment from a young age.
  • Introducing water familiarisation skills can be an enjoyable bonding time for parent and child. Water familiarisation classes build confidence and introduce children to basic water safety and survival skills.
  • Be aware that no water familiarisation class can ‘drown-proof’ a child. If children fall into water unexpectedly, they may panic and forget to apply their swimming skills. Always keep watch when children are in or around the water, regardless of their level of swimming ability.
  • Contact Royal Life Saving WA for a list of approved infant aquatic programs or find your local Endorsed Swim School
  • Water familiarisation can also include setting rules and boundaries. Set rules for children near water and ensure you and other adults enforce the rules to set a good example. When you’re visiting new aquatic locations with your child ensure you discuss any new or different rules.

Respond - Learn CPR and call 000 in an emergency

  • In many emergency situations involving children a parent will be the first person on the scene and can provide lifesaving assistance until emergency help arrives.
  • If your child is missing around the home, check water locations first. If they have found their way into water, every moment counts. Check water sources both inside and outside the house before looking anywhere else.
  • Every parent should learn first aid and CPR. Like any skill, resuscitation skills can be forgotten if not practised regularly. Update your resuscitation skills by completing a refresher course every 12 months.
  • In the case of a drowning, any CPR is better than no CPR. Even if you haven’t completed a course, try your best until further help arrives.
  • Royal Life Saving WA runs three hour Heart Beat Club resuscitation courses which are specifically designed for parents with young children. The course covers common child injuries such as choking, burns and scalds and drowning, with a major focus on child and infant CPR.
  • Contact Royal Life Saving WA for a list of upcoming courses or enrol online today.

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