Keep Watch Actions
Four key actions to prevent child drowning
The Keep Watch program has four key actions to prevent your child from drowning. These are: Supervise, Restrict Access, Water Awareness and Resuscitate. These are not individual strategies but should be used together for maximum safety – if one line of defence fails there are other prevention measures actively working to prevent your child from drowning.
All of your attention, all of the time
Active supervision means focusing all of your attention on your children all of the time, when they are in, on or around the water. Supervision is not an occasional glance while you are busy with other activities, but being in constant visual contact with your child.
Depending on your child’s age, you may even need to be in the water and within arms’ reach at all times. For older children, be ready to enter the water in case of an emergency.
Parents are busy and often try to do many things at once to save time. But when you multi-task you can too easily become distracted and not give your full attention to the safety of your children.
Older children too are not equipped to deal with the responsibility of supervising children. It is an adult’s job and children of any age should never be burdened with the responsibility.
Royal Life Saving believes that one of the smartest ways to supervise children is to have a designated supervisor. Responsibility can be rotated and if there is a large number of children to supervise, leave an adult stationed at each different place where the children will play to monitor that area.
Remember, drowning happens quickly and silently so Keep Watch!
Around the water or around the child
Restricting a child’s access to water can be done by placing a barrier between the child and the water. This can be done by either:
- Placing a barrier around the water – this includes fencing a pool or spa with a self-closing and self-latching gate, closing the door to the bathroom after use, covering pools, spas, and tanks, placing mesh on water features and fish ponds, and securely fastening lids on nappy buckets. Inflatable pools with a depth greater than 300mm also need to be fenced by law.
- Placing a barrier around the child – This takes the form of a Child Safe Play Area that can be used inside or outside the home and is especially effective for water you cannot fence like dams on farms.
Restricting access when combined with the other Keep Watch actions of Supervise, Water Awareness and Resuscitate are highly effective in preventing child drowning.
Building familiarity and confidence
Water awareness combines a range of strategies and activities designed to keep your child safe when in, on, or around water. These include water familiarisation, checking for and removing water hazards, setting rules around water and discussing water safety with your child.
Water awareness classes, such as Royal Life Saving’s Swim and Survive Wonder Program, focus on the gradual introduction of very basic skills for children aged 6 to 36 months like moving in the water, getting the face wet and blowing bubbles.
The next step is the Courage program which teaches water confidence to children aged 3 to 5 years.
From five years children are suitable for learn to swim classes. Here they will turn the basic skills taught in water awareness classes into recognisable strokes and develop the confidence to swim without being held by a parent or instructor.
But you can also use bath time as a time for water awareness. Let your baby or child feel, experience and play with water. Put rules in place for when they go near water and ensure parents and adults uphold these rules themselves to set a good example. When visiting new aquatic locations you can examine these together with your child and discuss any safety issues and rules for that location with your child.
Everyone can be a lifesaver
A family member is the first on the scene in most emergency situations. In fact many children are alive today because their parents knew how to perform CPR and responded quickly. For this reason alone, Royal Life Saving encourages everyone to learn CPR.
Having the skills to respond in an emergency situation can mean the difference between life and death.
Resuscitation or Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) involves stimulating the heart and breathing air into the lungs to preserve or restore life. Resuscitation involves establishing or maintaining an airway, breathing and circulation.
Royal Life Saving has a number of CPR related resources and courses available including a CPR chart that can be used near your backyard swimming pool and CPR courses that are run in a variety of locations across all States and Territories.