Kids can drown without a sound: Stay alert this summer

This summer, experts from Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network are urging parents to be extra vigilant when supervising children in and around water.

“Whether near the pool, at the beach, or in the bath, it’s crucial that a responsible adult is closely supervising children and young people to ensure they stay safe,” says Trauma Surgeon Dr S Soundappan.

Last year, 144 children presented to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead and Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick following a drowning incident, but Dr Soundappan says even one drowning is too many.

“We want there to be zero drownings. When a child drowns, it is very quick and silent. Most people think they will hear or notice their child splashing around if they’re drowning but this simply isn’t true. This is why it’s so important for parents and carers to be within arm’s reach of children and keeping their full attention on them when around water,”

“It’s so easy for everyday distractions, such as grabbing a towel, checking on another child or even glancing at a phone, to lead to a tragic incident. All it takes is 5cm of water for it to occur so adults should ensure they’re supervising children around water at all times, even if the child knows how to swim,” he said.

Dr Susan Adams, Trauma Surgeon, said knowing CPR, and how to perform it in an emergency could be the difference between life and death.

“It’s something we never want to think about, but knowing what to do in an emergency, and being competent in CPR, could save your child’s life.”

“It’s most often a family member who finds the child in a drowning incident, so every parent and carer needs to know the lifesaving skills of CPR. Any attempt at CPR is better than no attempt at all” she said.

Follow these four top water safety tips this summer:

1. Supervise: Closely watch at all times when they are in or around water, with no distractions.

2. Restrict access: Make sure your pool fence and gate is working properly and there’s nothing close by that children can climb on. Never purposely leave the gate open. Empty baths, buckets, inflatable pools and other sources of water after use.

3. Teach water awareness: Familiarise children with water and teach them to swim, but don’t rely on these skills to keep them safe. It’s also important for adults to learn to swim.

4. Learn how to resuscitate: Learn resuscitation (CPR) in case of an emergency. Remember any attempt is better than no attempt. 

For practical advice on keeping children safe around water, visit the Kids Health website.