Research into Public Pool Safety Urges Active Supervision of Young Children

A ten-year study by Royal Life Saving Society Australia into drownings at aquatic facilities revealed that more work is needed to enforce the messages around active parental supervision of young children.

The research report, titled ‘A 10-Year Analysis of Drowning in Aquatic Facilities: Exploring Risk at Communal, Public and Commercial Swimming Pools’, found that 78 people fatally drowned at aquatic facilities in Australia between 1 July 2005 and 30 June 2015.

Of the 78 drowning deaths, 36 occurred at ‘Public and Commercial’ swimming pools, and 42 occurred in ‘Communal’ swimming pools, such as a hotel or shared swimming pool in an apartment complex.

A further 362 people had a non-fatal drowning requiring hospitalisation and of these, 257 were in ‘Public and Commercial’ pools and primarily children aged 0-4 years (45%).

“Active supervision is vital when young children are in and around swimming pools,” says Andy Dennis, General Manager Public Training and Pool Safety. “It’s important to get the message out to parents and caregivers that they have the primary responsibility to actively supervise their children. Parents and guardians need to stay off their mobile devices, engage their children in the pool and not rely on lifeguards to act as babysitters.”

Even though the 0-4 year age range remain at greatest overall risk of drowning with the highest age-specific rate of fatal and non-fatal drowning combined, children aged 5-9 years accounted for the highest proportion of drowning deaths (19%) in the study and adult or carer supervision had lapsed in 86% of incidents.

“Parents and guardians should be mindful not to overestimate the swimming ability of their children,” says Mr Dennis.

In Victoria, there are on average 4 drowning deaths, 20 hospital admissions for non-fatal drowning and a further 34 emergency department presentations for non-fatal drowning in the 0-4 year age range each year, representing 9% of the annual Victorian drowning toll.

Bystander CPR is critical in the case of a drowning incident. Studies have shown that patients who receive bystander CPR are more than two times more likely to survive than those that don’t.

“Spreading the safety messages is one thing, but teaching parents, carers, family and friends  life-saving CPR skills is also of utmost importance,” says Mr Dennis.

For more information or to download the full report, please go to:

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