Keep Watch aims to prevent drowning deaths of children under five years of age in all aquatic locations

For 25 years Keep Watch has been advising Australian parents and carers on how to keep their children safe when in, on or around the water.

Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in children 0-4 years of age. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that drowning is the number one cause of death in one-, two- and three-year-old children (ABS 2019).

Between 1 July 2002/03 and 30 June 2018/19, 496 children aged 0-4 years drowned in Australia. Of these, 202 (41%) children aged one year drowned – within the context of an entire lifespan, from 0 to 100 years, no other age is at greater risk of drowning.

Most deaths in children aged one occurred in backyard swimming pools (59%) and during the summer months (44%).

Accidental falls into water was the leading activity prior to drowning in this age group, accounting for 88% of all deaths.

Almost all of these deaths were due to a lack of active adult supervision.

For every toddler drowning death approximately eight children are admitted to hospital as a result of non-fatal drowning.

The Keep Watch program has four key drowning prevention actions: Supervise, Restrict Access, Water Awareness and Resuscitate. When implemented together, these safety measures can help to maximise child safety around water.


Keep Watch

Royal Life Saving is urging parents and carers to Keep Watch of children around water no matter what.

Distractions like answering the phone, attending to another child, or ducking inside to grab something can have tragic consequences if a toddler is left unattended by water.

Actively supervise children around water, check your pool fence and gate, and never prop the pool gate open. Swimming lessons are great, but they are no substitute for active supervision and a pool fence in good working order.


Regularly check your pool fence and gate, and never prop the pool gate open.

A NSW study of child drowning deaths in home swimming pools between 2002/03 and 2016/17 showed that in 62% of cases, the child gained access to the pool area through a faulty fence or gate, or a gate which had been deliberately propped open, allowing the child to enter the pool area unaccompanied.