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Life Saving Victoria’s Watch Around Water urges parents to put their down phones when at the pool
With large numbers of parents addicted to their mobile phones, Life Saving Victoria (LSV) is reminding them of the need to supervise their children when at swimming pools and to not be distracted.
Brunswick Baths is one of a number of Victorian aquatic centres erecting signs and posters with messages including 'Watch your child, not your mobile' due to rising drowning concerns.
Parents transfixed by their phones and oblivious to their children's attempts to show them a new swimming move are among scenes reported by pool users before the signs went up.
However, LSV says device distraction can be deadly, with lifeguards increasingly having to take care of children not being supervised by their parents.
The signs have been introduced as part of LSV's Watch Around Water strategy, aimed at reducing the number of fatal and non-fatal drownings and injuries in Victoria within the 0 to 14 year age group.
Some aquatic centres are also changing their passwords for public Wi-Fi to phrases like 'watchyourchild' to ram home the message.
Advising that about 170 public pools have registered for the campaign in Victoria, LSV's General Manager of Public Training and Pool Safety, Andy Dennis stated "(the campaing) is intended to raise the profile of the need for parents to supervise their children rather than expect lifeguards to do that job.
"It started in Western Australia as there were too many instances of lifeguards having to rescue children who were not being properly supervised as mum and dad were on their phones.
"Unfortunately it's something that's very prevalent here as well. A lot of parents and guardians, if they look themselves in the mirror, have to acknowledge that they are on their phones rather than watching their kids in instances when they shouldn't be."
Dennis said lifeguards often had to monitor multiple pools and could not be relied upon to look after every child.
Watch Around Water has long promoted the message that ‘Lifeguards are not babysitters!’ while last month the German Lifeguard Association (DLRG) - the biggest organisation of its kind in Europe - issued a warning that a growing number of child drownings in the country during the recent northern hemisphere summer were linked to their parents’ obsession with mobile phones.
Echoing fears among lifesaving bodies in Australia and New Zealand, DLRG’s spokesman Achim Wiese stated “too few parents and grandparents are heeding the advice: when your children and grandchildren are in the water, put your smartphone away.”
Images: The Watch Around Water message at Melbourne's Brunswick Baths (top) and LIWA Aquatics' 2016 Watch Around Water campaign reminded parents to focus on the safety of their children (top).
25th September 2018 - Adventure Park Geelong becomes Watch Around Water first
7th September 2018 - German lifeguards warn that child drownings linked to parents’ smartphone ‘fixation’
30th April 2018 - Life Saving Victoria welcomes additional water safety funding
17th January 2018 - New signage aims to reduce drowning incidents in New Zealand public pools
14th March 2017 - Life Saving Victoria concerned by rising drowning toll
16th December 2016 - Watch Around Water gets season launch
8th November 2013 - Outdoor pool reopens at Brunswick Baths
8th January 2013 - Aquatic facilities benefit from nine seasons of Watch Around Water
16th February 2012 - Watch Around Water program reaches 100 pools in Victoria
29th August 2011 - Lifeguards are not babysitters!: Watch Around Water launches new website
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