Swim safety more important than ever as child drowning deaths increase
Overall, drowning deaths in Australia are in decline but 2015’s figures show five more deaths than the previous year, highlighting that it’s incredibly important to be vigilant around waterways, pools and bodies of water.
Just yesterday a 2-year-old boy was taken to hospital after almost drowning in a background pool. An hour earlier, a 3-year-old in an unrelated incident died after drowning in a swimming pool.
Most of the drowning deaths in Australia occur on inland waterways while swimming and having what was supposed to be a fun day out.
And men drown at a rate that is alarmingly greater than women. Last year 80 per cent of the victims of drowning were men.
However, as the Royal Life Saving Drowning Report states, the rate of women drowning has increased for the second year in a row.
More: Swim safety 101
The spike in drowning deaths has recently led some to question whether people are remaining on high alert regarding pool safety and being vigilant with children around water.
Pejman Talebi, a swim teacher and manager at swimming school Aquatic Achievers, says that perhaps people are becoming more desensitised to the dangers around pools and waterways.
“No matter how good a swimmer you are, if you don’t know what the situation is like where you’re swimming and you choose to ignore the hazards and dangers surrounding you, then you run the risk of drowning,” he says, adding that it's not just the backyard pool that people should be wary of.
Talebi suggests people become extra vigilant about the following hazards and dangers in waterways, too:
- Slippery rocks
- Muddy water that obscures vision of depth
- Roots and plants in the water where you can get your feet caught
- Sharp plants and rocks
- Tree roots
Because the element of danger changes so much at each age group, Talebi says there are particular things to keep in mind, regardless of what your age or situation in the water.
“The lack of adult supervision is one of the main contributing factors leading to pool drowning rates of children up to the age of four,” Talebi says.
“For children between the ages of five to 14, then not knowing how to swim and, again, the lack of supervision would be one of the main reasons for drowning to occur."
Teenagers and young adults drowning in waterways, on the other hand, usually occurs because “the person doesn’t know about the surrounding hazards in the environment and doesn't take enough care and precaution as a result,” he says.
How can we ensure both adults and children are safe in the water?
“Definitely do your homework before you go or take your kids and family near any body of water. The more you know and inform others about the do’s and don’ts in the water, the safer you will become,” Talebi says.
“Also, it’s incredibly important to learn how to swim and teach your little ones, too. Learning how to swim will not make you or your children drown-proof, but it will increase your and their chances of survival in case of an incident.”