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Royal Life Saving study finds lack of supervision behind child drownings at public facilities

Royal Life Saving study finds lack of supervision behind child drownings at public facilities
April 19, 2018

Three in four Australian children who drowned in public and communal pools during the 10 years from 2005 to 2015 were not supervised, according to new research from Royal Life Saving Society - Australia.

The newly released report report A 10 Year Analysis of Drowning in Aquatic Facilities: Exploring Risk at Communal, Public and Commercial Swimming Pools found that 78 people fatally drowned at aquatic facilities in Australia between 1st July 2005 and 30th June 2015.

The report reveals that that 36 deaths occurred at ‘public and commercial’ swimming pools, a further 42 deaths occurred in ‘communal’ swimming pools (including hotel and motel pools, as well as pools at apartment complexes and retirement villages) while a further 362 people had a non-fatal drowning requiring hospitalisation.

Key drowning risk factors in both locations were a lack of active adult supervision, with children aged five to nine years old most at risk (19%) of drowning and in the majority of cases, the child was retrieved from the pool by a member of staff.

The 10-year analysis of drownings at aquatic facilities also revealed pre-existing medical conditions, and a lack of swimming ability and water safety knowledge as key factors in drowning.

Commenting on the findings, Royal Life Saving Chief Executive, Justin Scarr (pictured below) advised “not all Australians have access to a private swimming pool, so public swimming pools are a vital resource used by local communities. Safety should always be a top priority around water.

“Parents and carers must actively supervise their children around water, even if lifeguards are present. All pool users should follow safety signs and any directions issued by staff.”

The report also revealed a further 257 non-fatal drowning incidents in ‘public and commercial’ pools which were primarily children aged under four years (45%). Without the intervention of lifeguard actions, many of these non-fatal drownings may have resulted in a fatality.

The high proportion of children drowning in public pools reinforces the need for a comprehensive child supervision program, such as ‘Keep Watch’ or ‘Watch Around Water’. These programs promote active adult supervision, with particular requirements for younger children and non-swimmers.

Scarr added “research shows that parents and carers need ongoing reminders about the importance of active adult supervision. We encourage all facilities to contact Royal Life Saving to become a program partner, and receive a range of resources for water safety.”

The report also revealed that vast majority of drowning deaths occurred among local residents, with 94% of people who drowned living within the region. Males accounted for 81% of all drowning deaths.

Medical conditions were another key risk factor, with 61% of deaths known to involve a pre-existing medical condition. These commonly included cardiac conditions, such as ischaemic heart disease, as well as degenerative conditions and epilepsy. Royal Life Saving advises older Australians to be aware of any medical conditions they have, including how these conditions may impact their ability in the water. Regular check-ups with a doctor are encouraged, as well as taking any prescribed medication as directed.

More than half of drowning deaths occurred in communal pools occurred in Queensland (52%), with half of people who drowned found to be visitors to the location (50%). Although drowning deaths occurred all year round, incidents peaked during summer (45%).

Commenting on this element of the study, Scarr advised “drowning deaths in ‘communal’ swimming pools often involved overseas or interstate tourists, with a spike in fatalities during the warmer months when people are on holiday. It’s important that people learn swimming and lifesaving skills, particularly when visiting locations where lifeguards are not always present.”

Alcohol consumption was a key risk factor, with 21% of deaths known to involve alcohol. At the levels recorded, alcohol is known to affect alertness, perception, vision, balance and reaction time. Royal Life Saving advises people to avoid alcohol consumption around water and observe any safety signs around hotel and motel swimming pools.

14th March 2018 - NEW RESEARCH COULD PROVE KEY TO PREVENTING DROWNING DEATHS AMONG VICTORIAN CHILDREN

7th March 2018 - SWIMS 4 ALL INITIATIVE LOOKS TO GET MORE AUSTRALIANS SWIMMING 

3rd February 2018 - QUEENSLAND PREMIER ANNOUNCES AUDIT OF SCHOOL SWIMMING AND ENCOURAGEMENT FOR SWIM SCHOOL ENROLMENTS 

17th December 2017 - COMPLACENCY SURROUNDING ASIAN DROWNING EPIDEMIC ALSO IMPACTS AUSTRALIA

7th December 2017 - ROYAL LIFE SAVING REPORT DEMONSTRATES WELLNESS BENEFITS OF AQUATIC FACILITIES

15th September 2017 - AUSTRALIAN LEISURE FACILITIES ASSOCIATION ECHOES CONCERNS RAISED IN 2017 NATIONAL DROWNING REPORT

17th August 2017 - HAWTHORN AQUATIC AND LEISURE CENTRE SECURES ROYAL LIFE SAVING FACILITY SAFETY AWARD

16th August 2017 - GENESIS FITNESS MELTON’S SWIM SCHOOL WINS LIFE SAVING VICTORIA AWARD

15th August 2017 - GOULBURN AQUATIC AND LEISURE CENTRE WINS NATIONAL AQUATIC INDUSTRY SAFETY AWARD

11th August 2017 - WATER SAFETY EDUCATION MESSAGE SECURES ROYAL LIFE SAVING AWARD FOR MILNE BAY AQUATIC CENTRE 

25th July 2017 - SWIM SCHOOLS INVITED TO BACK CHILD SAFETY INITIATIVE 

21st April 2017 - ROYAL LIFE SAVING LAUNCHES NATIONAL AQUATIC INDUSTRY SAFETY AWARDS 

16th December 2016 - WATCH AROUND WATER GETS SEASON LAUNCH 

18th August 2016 - CORONER FINDS 2014 WATERMARC DROWNING DEATH WAS PREVENTABLE

17th April 2014 - PARENTS WARNED THAT CHILD WATER SAFETY IS NOT JUST A SUMMER CONCERN

4th November 2013 - PARENTS VALUE SWIMMING AND WATER SAFETY LESSONS ABOVE OTHER OUT-OF-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES 

23rd October 2013 - CHILDREN LEARN THE IMPORTANCE OF WATER SAFETY DURING VICTORIAN CHILDREN’S WEEK 

30th September 2010 - RLSSA TRAINING ACADEMY TO PROMOTE AQUATIC SAFETY


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Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at www.ausleisure.com.au is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.

 

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