How to keep children safe around water
Exposure to drowning risks and hazards naturally vary throughout a person’s life. In children, differentiating between various lifestages has helped us to develop programs and safety initiatives specifically for each period of a child's life.
From babe in arms to young adult, how to keep your child safe around water

While some general principles of safety, such as supervision, remain constant throughout a child's life, Royal Life Saving’s lifestage approach addresses specific risks and hazards for children and young adults.

As children grow older they become exposed to various risks. As they become ‘mobile’ they have a greater awareness of their surroundings and seek to explore these at every opportunity. This exploratory phase can lead to a child coming into contact with the swimming pool area and other bodies of water such as ponds and water features.

These areas are normally associated with fun and activity and therefore are a highly desirable location for young children.

By understanding your child’s developmental life stage you can be better prepared to deal with the various risks and hazards that impact specific age groups.

Young children are at high risk of drowning. They are naturally curious and attracted to water. However, they are too young to understand the concept of danger, making active adult supervision vital.

Although children aged 0 to 4 years are at most risk, Royal Life Saving recommends some level of supervision for all children under 15. This ranges from being in the water, within arms’ reach and actively supervising children aged 0 to 4 years, actively supervising from the water’s edge for those aged 5 to 10 years and regularly checking up on those aged 11 to 14 years.

These elements form the fundamentals of Royal Life Saving's Keep Watch campaign, which was launched over 25 years ago to keep children safe around water.

Drowning deaths in children
Children aged 0 to 4 years drown, on average, each year in Australia (2002-2022)
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Almost all deaths are due to a lack of or lapse in adult supervision
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Of young children drown in swimming pools (2002-2022)
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Of drowning deaths in children aged 0 to 4 are due to a fall (2002-2022)
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1-2 years
Children aged 1 to 2 years old are at greatest risk of drowning (2002-2022)

Distractions are dangerous

Remain ever vigilant and always watching

Supervision is the single most important thing you can do to keep your children safe around water.

Any distraction is dangerous and puts young children at risk around water. Whether it is a phone or social media use, or carrying out everyday tasks, such as leaving a child unsupervised momentarily to cook, take the rubbish out or collect the washing, no task is worth your child’s life

Portable pool safety

Find out what you need to do to make your portable pool safe for children.