Surprising statistics – 1 year old’s are at greatest risk of drowning

Royal Lifesaving Australia last week released a report suggesting that one year old children are statistically at the greatest risk of drowning in Australia, with the risk of drowning tripling after a child’s first birthday. 41 per cent of drownings among kids under five occurred in one-year-olds, with 202 recorded in the past 17 years – 67 of which were in NSW alone, the highest number of any state.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics lists drowning as the number one cause of death in one-year-olds. Most of those drownings – 59 per cent – occurred in backyard swimming pools. Royal Life Saving said “almost all” the deaths were due to lack of adult supervision.
“Parents and carers need to know that the risk of drowning triples as soon as a child starts to crawl, peaking shortly after a child’s first birthday,” CEO Justin Scarr said on Wednesday.
“We can’t emphasise enough how important active adult supervision is in preventing these deaths. Distractions are dangerous – whether it is taking a phone call, browsing social media or ducking inside to grab something – we ask parents and carers to always keep watch. In addition, it is essential that people install pool fences and check pool gates regularly to make sure they are not faulty or kept propped open.”
The importance of swimming lessons cannot be underestimated. The sooner a child can turn themselves around after a jump or fall into the water and return to the side, the safer they will be.
Robyn Ellery, Learn To Swim and Water Babies instructor for nearly 20 years, and Austswim assessor, was instrumental in the development of the Water Babies program at Nepean Aquatic Centre and Eva Bory’s Swim School. She said “Some of the most important components of our Learn to Swim program are the games and exercises that teach the babies and children to jump into the water, when to hold their breath and to either turn over and float or paddle back to the side and hold on, or to pull themselves out. Younger children are firstly assisted by their parents in our Water Babies levels, and then practise these skills independently when they are ready to progress”.
She adds,”We also teach children to wait their turn, and not to enter the water until invited to do so, an important skill when by the pool at home, and teach parents crucial water safety information within our Water Babies classes”.
Royal Life Australia recommends that children 0-5 should be within arm’s reach of a supervising adult at all times when around water.