Important pool safety tips for babies and toddlers this Summer

Summer is here in Australia, and that means fun, relaxing, and socialising with friends and family at backyard BBQs and pool parties. It’s been a long year for many of us, and we all deserve to unwind and enjoy some time with our loved ones.

We want to ensure that your little ones are safe at social gatherings during this period, so we urge you to actively supervise them around water. Taking your eyes off them for even a split second is enough for a curious baby or toddler to gain unsupervised access to water.

20 seconds is all it takes for them to drown, which isn’t much time at all. It’s also usually silent. It’s easy for parents and caregivers to become distracted for 20 seconds, and unfortunately that’s what is happening when fatal drowning accidents occur.

Household chores and socialising are the most common distractions that lead to breaks in supervision. So, doing typical tasks like checking on dinner, taking out the rubbish, or hanging the washing on the line; or talking to others or checking phones. All things that we think we can quickly and safely do.

Please keep in mind all of these important pool safety tips this Summer. You just might save a little one’s life.

Important pool safety tips for babies this Summer

It’s a heartbreaking fact that drowning continues to be one of the leading causes of accidental death in Australian children under 5 years of age. It’s also preventable, and here’s how to keep babies and toddlers safe around the pool:

1. Appoint a designated supervisor

There are usually several adults at social gatherings and it can be incredibly easy to assume that someone is supervising the children, when in fact, no one is.

To prevent any kind of miscommunication about who’s watching them, appoint a designated (sober and responsible) supervisor who will watch them in and around the pool.

Rotate this role throughout the day so that everyone gets a chance to enjoy the day. Write down everyone’s name and set a timer to change shifts at intervals that everyone is happy with. 

2. Ensure active adult supervision

The designated supervisor cannot be doing anything else at all, including taking photos or looking at their phone. Their focus is completely on the children, whether they’re in the pool or not.

Active adult supervision means being within arm’s reach of babies and toddlers.

It also means not relying on inflatable pool toys, arm bands, rings, or vests to keep children safe as they are not life-saving devices.

3. Pool or spa barriers must be secure

Don’t assume that the pool and spa gates are compliant and in proper working order. They have been exposed to extreme weather conditions all year so parts can rust or deteriorate. They also wear with time, and screws and bolts can come out.

All gates and doors to the pool must be self-closing and self-latching.

Ensure that the fence and gates are regularly checked by professionals if you own a pool. To find out more information on pool fencing legislation and the responsibility of pool owners, please visit Kidsafe.

4. Remove objects that could allow access to water

Never prop the pool gate open, even when the children are indoors or being actively supervised nearby.

Ensure there are no climbable objects near the pool fence, such as pot plants, chairs, pool pumps, pool toys, tree stumps, eski, or the BBQ. Even if your baby can’t climb, an older child may be able to access the pool area this way and open the gate to allow little ones access.

5. Be aware of other water hazards

The pool isn’t the only place a child could drown during social gatherings. It only takes a few centimeters of water for a baby or toddler to drown.

This includes eskies with melted ice, bird baths, pots that have filled up on rainy days, ponds, and little paddling pools. Ensure that if using inflatable pools that they are emptied and packed away when not being used.

Do a check around the house and yard for any potential water hazards.

6. Learn CPR

Know what to do in an emergency by completing a baby and child first-aid course, and update your skills regularly.

For more information on keeping kids safe around water, and to read more about Kidsafe’s ‘Safe Barriers, Save Lives’ backyard pool safety campaign, please visit:

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