Home Water Safety

A toddler sitting in a blue bucket full of water, holding a smaller blue bucket in his hand and looking up at the camera

Drowning remains one of the leading causes of preventable death in kids under the age of five. A backyard pool is the most obvious location where a young child can drown, but there are many other water sources around the home that parents need to watch out for. A baby or toddler can drown in minutes in just centimetres of water so parents need to be on their guard all the time around the home – not just while swimming. 

The home environment is where toddlers are spending most of their time and it's also where parents other have other distractions. Chores, phone calls and attending to other kids can all lead to lapses in supervision which allow a curious toddler to find their way to water unnoticed. 

What locations can pose a risk?

Bath tubs 

The bath is the second most common location for a young child to drown, with most incidents involving babies under the age of one. Often their parents leave the room for only a few minutes but this can be enough for a baby to lose balance and slip under water.

Ensure you’re prepared with everything you need for the bath so there’s no need to leave the room, give your baby your full attention while bathing and empty the water out as soon as bath time is finished.

Dog bowls, buckets and tub

Think about any buckets or tubs of water you might have around the house – clam shells, paddling pools, large dog bowls, water for mopping or washing the car, buckets collecting excess shower water for the garden or even eskies full of melted ice.

These are a serious risk to young children crawling or toddling around the home as they can easily fall head-first into a container they are exploring.

Don’t leave containers of water around your home or backyard. Always empty buckets and paddling pools out immediately after use, rather than thinking you will come back and deal with them “later”.

Fishponds and water features

Backyard ponds, water features, and fountains are often placed close to the home, are full of interesting things like fish and plants and are rarely surrounded by a barrier.

This makes them a magnet for curious toddlers. Water features should be separated from the house if possible and covered with strong wire mesh to prevent children from falling in.

When do drowning deaths around the home occur?

Studies show the majority of toddler drowning deaths occur in the afternoon, when parents’ attention may be divided with the arrival home of other siblings, preparing of the evening meal, etc. Be aware of the additional distractions around this time, do not let them interfere with your constant visual supervision of your child when around water.

Social situations are another time when parents need be mindful of the increased probability of drowning. Often at parties and gatherings, everyone can assume that someone else is watching the child/children and, as such, no one is supervising. Nominating a designated “child supervisor” during parties is a way of ensuring that the children are supervised at all times. If this person needs to leave for any reason, ensure a new supervisor is appointed or rotate the supervision responsibilities. 

How can I prevent drowning around the home?

Supervise - Always keep watch of your child around water

Restrict - Restrict your child's access to water at all times

Teach - Teach your child water safety skills

Respond - Learn CPR and call Triple Zero (000) in an emergency

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