Check fences and gates – drowning risk triples when children turn one

Drowning risk triples when children turn one. Royal Life Saving research found that 222 children aged one year have drowned over the past twenty years, equating to 40% of all children drowning under the age of five.

Royal Life Saving Chief Executive Officer Justin Scarr said drowning risk triples following a child’s first birthday. “Parents need to be aware of this heightened risk and stay vigilant.

“As children become more mobile, they are curious and unpredictable. It is vital you keep constant watch and restrict access to water around the home. We are reminding parents that ‘Kids can’t help themselves around water, you need to. Keep Watch.” Mr Scarr said.

Royal Life Saving’s Keep Watch Campaign kicks off in time for summer to remind parents and carers about the risks of child drowning. Royal Life Saving research shows drowning risk for young children peaks in summer, with 38 per cent of all deaths occurring between December and February.

Children aged 0 – 4 years represented the highest number of swimming pool drowning deaths in the last 20 years. Royal Life Saving research found a total of 282 children aged 0 – 4 years lost their lives in a swimming pool between 2002 and 2022. 85% of these deaths occurred at a backyard pool. 44% of these children were aged one year. Most children were able to access the backyard pool unsupervised through a gate that had been propped open or not properly closed.

Accidental falls into the water (77%) were the leading activity prior to drowning in this age group, followed by bathing (16%). Drowning in children is quick and silent, but it can be prevented.

Drowning rates for children aged 0 – 4 years have reduced by 59% over the last 20 years, but drowning remains one of the leading causes of accidental death for this age group. Tragically, there are an average of 27 child drowning incidents every year, with 40% of these deaths aged just one-year-old.

Knowing the risks of child drowning can help prepare parents and carers for their vital role in preventing child drowning. Parents and carers are urged to ‘Keep Watch’ by actively supervising children around water, restricting access to water, teaching children water safety skills and knowing how to respond in the case of an emergency.

There has been a 60% decrease in drowning rates for children aged 0 – 4 years in swimming pools over the last 20 years, an outcome of increased adult supervision and pool fencing legislation across Australia.

This is the time of year to check your pool fence and gate.

“If there is a lapse in supervision, a correctly installed and regularly maintained pool barrier can prevent your child from drowning. It is important that pool gates are not propped open for any reason. Always check you’ve locked the pool gate behind you and restrict children’s access to outdoor areas without adult supervision.”

The Royal Life Saving Keep Watch program promotes four actions to keep children safe around the water: Supervise, Restrict, Teach and Respond. Remember, kids can’t help themselves around water, and you need to. Keep Watch.