This summer, parents and caregivers are being urged to keep a watchful eye over their kids as a new study reveals more than 500 children aged up to four years have drowned in the past two decades.

Royal Life Saving Australia says the risk of drowning triples as soon as a child starts to crawl, peaking shortly after a child’s first birthday.

Of the 532 children who died, 40 per cent were just one-year old, with 77 per cent of drownings happening after a fall into water, and swimming pools the leading location for drowning among children over the past 19 years.

In almost all instances, the child was not being supervised by an adult when they entered the water.

Katrien Pickles is a Senior Project Officer with Royal Life Saving Australia and says this year has been especially challenging for parents due to the ongoing pandemic.

“Families are juggling so much and this may lead to distractions and lapses in adult supervision,” she said.

“Everyday distractions such as answering the front door, checking an email or putting the washing on can prove disastrous for young children. When supervising children around the water, always make sure your full attention is dedicated to the task.”

Katrien Pickles, Royal Life Saving Australia.

Royal Life Saving Australia’s Keep Watch public awareness and education campaign has been running for more than 25 years. It recommends the following safety tips to keep children safe around water:

  1. Supervise. Actively supervise children around water
  2. Restrict. Restrict children’s access to water
  3. Teach. Teach children water safety skills
  4. Respond. Learn how to respond in the case of an emergency