Matt Preston urges Aussie Families to Keep Watch this Summer

Matt Preston

Last summer, 14 children under five years of age lost their lives in entirely preventable backyard pool-drowning incidents.

To put a stop to the needless loss of life through backyard pool drowning, Matt Preston and Royal Life Saving today launched World’s Most Costly, a campaign to remind parents to keep watch no matter what this summer.

Preston’s new World’s Most Costly video highlights how everyday distractions such as checking the oven, answering the doorbell, taking a phone call or simply going to the bathroom, can result in irreversible tragedies. It urges parents and carers to Keep Watch and actively supervise their kids when at home this summer.

“As a parent, it is frightening to hear how many swimming pool fatalities and near deaths are as a result of just a short lapse in supervision. We all need to be reminded to keep watch, no matter what. The cost of even the most innocent distraction can simply be too great,” said Preston.

According to the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2016, 83 children died in private swimming pools between 2002-2015, with children under five years old most at risk of drowning death and injury this summer. In 59% of cases, supervision was completely absent, and in six per cent of cases, older siblings were left to supervise younger children.

Newcastle mum, Belinda Hedley, knows just how quickly an incident can happen, coming close to losing her twin boys when they were just two-and-a-half years old at a family gathering.

“In those split seconds of us turning our back, we almost lost our twin boys. We found them face down in the pool, and thankfully knew how to resuscitate them, we still have them today.

“My message to all parents out there is to Keep Watch no matter what,” said Belinda.

Royal Life Saving NSW Operations Manager Michael Ilinsky said last weekend’s tragedies, resulting in a 22-month-old drowning and a two year old air lifted to hospital, have again highlighted the urgency of this message.

“A supervised child doesn’t drown. It’s common at this time of year to have family gatherings and backyard BBQs with friends, which brings with it all sorts of distractions into the home.

“Answering the door, preparing food, changing a sibling’s nappy, and answering a call are all distractions that leave children vulnerable to drowning, making active supervision critical - be prepared, be close, and give all of your attention, all of the time.

“Most importantly, never ever leave children unsupervised around the pool. If you are required to leave the pool area take your children with you and don’t leave children in the care of older siblings,” said Ilinsky.

NSW Minister for Local Government Paul Toole said the Government had recently more than doubled its financial support for Royal Life Saving’s campaign.

“Active adult supervision of young children is the first line of defense against drowning in backyard pools. Royal Life Saving NSW’s campaign, with increased NSW Government support, will drive home this important message,” Mr Toole said.

This summer’s campaign will work in collaboration with the NSW Ambulance and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. These organisations deal with the trauma of fatal and non-fatal drowning incidents and their stories are told in a series of interviews that can be watched here and here.

The World’s Most Costly campaign is part of Royal Life Saving’s Keep Watch program, aiming to prevent drowning deaths of children under five years of age in all aquatic locations.

Royal Life Saving’s Keep Watch program offers resources and educational programs including First Aid training and swim safety lessons to reinforce the four key drowning prevention actions - restrict access to water, teach children water safety, learn how to resuscitate, and above all, always keep watch.

Pool owners and parents are encouraged to always actively supervise kids when using the household pool, using the below guide to assure safety.

  • Be Prepared – Always make sure you have everything ready when going swimming e.g. towels, goggles, dry clothes, drinking water
  • Be Close – Always be within arm’s reach of your child/children
  • All Of Your Attention – Focus all of your attention on your child/children and watch, talk and play with them when they are in the water
  • All Of The Time – Never leave your child alone in the water, nor should they be left in the care of an older child

For further facts and information visit worldsmostcostly.com and join the conversation online via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, using #KeepWatch.

For more information or images, please contact:

Sam Boyd | 0414 408 198 | samantha.boyd@303mullenlowe.com.au

Melissa Grove | 0410 401 363 | Melissa.grove@303mullenlowe.com.au