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Stopping young children drowning - supervising them
11 Mar 2013

Many children drown at home in the family pool. Some children drown even when there are adults near. It is important to have swimming pools fenced safely and to supervise young children at all times when they are near a pool or other water.

Young children can drown very quickly and quietly. Young children can drown in only a few inches of water. No safety precautions can take the place of adult supervision.

What is Supervision?

  • Supervision is constant visual contact with your child.
  • You should be within arms reach and be in a position to respond quickly.
  • It is not an occasional glance while you nap, read or undertake household chores, and it is not looking out at your kids playing outside while you are inside.
  • If you have to leave the swimming pool - take the child with you.

Why do I need to supervise so actively?

  • The lack of direct adult supervision was the main factor in 70% of toddler drowning deaths.
  • Indirect supervision has resulted in the loss of many young lives, proving that when a parent’s or carer's attention is focused on something else, tragedies can occur.

Can older kids watch younger kids?

  • No. Leaving young children in the care of other siblings has been a factor in a number of toddler drowning deaths.
  • Older children are not equipped with the skills to perceive and respond to an emergency situation, nor should they be given this responsibility.

How can I best supervise my child?

  • By being within arms reach and engaged and interacting with your child when they are in, on or around water.

What is the best way to supervise children at parties?

  • If there is a small number of children, make an adult responsible for their care. If this person leaves they should ask someone else to take over.
  • If there are a large number of children, leave an adult stationed at different places where the children will play, to monitor the area.

Supervision checklist:

  • Have you brought all the clothes, towels and gear, so you do not need to stop watching your child in or near water?
  • Are you prepared to get wet? Active supervision often means getting in the water with the child.
  • Have you taken the phone with you? Better yet, turn on the answer machine and let it take the call.
  • Are you are within arms reach of your child at all times?
  • Do you undertake other activities while your child is in, or near water? Remember that this lessens your attention on the child.

This information was developed by Royal Life Saving Australia. For further information visit www.royallifesaving.com.au.

Also, have a look at the topic 'Water safety'.