Drowning is the number one cause of child related deaths in Australia, with February known as a killer aquatic month.

Learn-to-swim experts Swim Australia have announced that February recorded the highest drowning rate during the 2012/2013 financial year.

According to Swim Australia the National Drowning Report reported 37 Australians – including children and adults – drowned during this period.

Swim Australia CEO Ross Gage says the holidays are over, and the kids are safely back at school, February is not a time to become complacent about water safety.

“As Aussies, we’re often labeled as laid back. We can’t afford to be this way when in and around water.

“We can’t afford to think, ‘drowning won’t happen to our family’. It can. We can’t afford to rely on CPR alone if an incident should occur,” Mr Gage says.

Last week, a toddler, a five-year-old boy, and a 27-year-old man tragically drowned in separate water incidents – one in a pool, a lake, and the other in a river; neither could be resuscitated. Several non-fatal drowning incidents, were also recorded in the same week.

“The reality is, kids and un-skilled swimmers and can drown in any body of water. While accidents can and do happen, by applying the four ‘Layers of Protection’, you can help to prevent drowning tragedies,” Mr Gage says.

Each of Swim Australia’s ‘Layers of Protection’ must be applied together, and include:

• Be Aware – Don’t let the kids out of your sight.

This is fundamental, and should be performed by a responsible adult. All nonswimmers and children under five, must be supervised within arm’s reach.

Be Secure – Keep fences and gates locked up tight.

Pool fences and gates need to be regularly inspected, maintained and meet government requirements. Objects and potential climbing apparatuses like pot plants and chairs, need to be removed.

• Be confident – Learn to swim, and how to get to safety.

Practicing such skills provides another layer of protection, but should never be substituted for proper supervision and barriers.

• Be prepared – Always have a plan in case of emergency.

Check the pool and other waterways first if a child is missing, then check bedrooms, cupboards etc. Ensure your resuscitation skills are up to date, and permanently display at least one resuscitation or CPR Chart in the pool area.
 

“Even if you don’t have a pool, other water hazards like buckets of water, bath tubs, portable drink coolers, backyard paddle pools, bird baths, water features, lakes, dams, creeks or even an animal water trough, can pose as a drowning threat to young kids,” he says.

One children water safety campaign that people will be familiar with is the Kids Alive Do The Five program.

In 1988 to combat drowning, Laurie Lawrence created the Kids Alive Do the Five water safety program. The Kids Alive program educates the public on five important steps to reduce the risk of preschool drowning.

The five important steps are featured below and sung in his musical video for the campaign:

1. Fence the pool
2. Shut the gate
3. Teach your kids to swim – it’s great
4. Supervise – watch your mate and
5. Learn how to resuscitate

As a result of the Kids Alive Do The Five program drowning statistics have reduced significantly and according to Laurie there is still a long way to go.

“Our target is zero deaths by drowning,” he says.

Do your kids know about aquatic safety and know how to swim?