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Friday 17 December 2010

Vital message for summer: from The Children's Hospital at Westmead

Hearing about a drowning is utterly heartbreaking. As a mother with a backyard pool I will confess to being stricken with fear at the very thought of it. I am not a strong swimmer and it has been of utmost importance to me to ensure my three year old twins are water-aware and feel confident in the pool. This does not mean it will ever eliminate the need for supervision. Oh no, not at all. In fact, I become a primal mother when we're in the pool, and watch their every move intently. But as these pictures show - courtesy of The Children's Hospital at Westmead - curious, young minds seek adventure... and in this case, these actions can have potentially disastrous consequences.

And the latest case of near-drownings due to lack of supervision have emergency doctors at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead warning parents about the dangers of crowded pools - there have been five near-drowning incidents in the past week.

While hospitals, major pool organisations and children’s safety groups have been busy building pool safety awareness in the lead-up to summer, there is still major concern over the safety of children in and around water after the five separate incidents.

Each year, as summer approaches, children spend more time venturing into the water to cool down, in both private and public pools. However, as Professor Danny Cass of the Trauma Unit at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead says, supervision by parents must play a lead role in preventing drownings.

“In this latest group of near-drownings, four were in public access pools while the other was in a private pool. Each of these cases involved a lapse of supervision. This is a real issue, particularly when the child is at a busy public pool where there are large crowds of people. Supervision can become confused. Supervision around water means within “arm’s length” and with eye contact,” said Cass.

“Not only is supervision the issue, but also the fact that the child can easily be overlooked when in the pool surrounded by a large number of swimmers”.

Emergency and Trauma specialists at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead are urging parents/carers to be extra vigilant this season and to ensure that:

1. They intimately supervise their children around swimming pools and any other body of water.

2. They closely observe their child when swimming in public pools.

3. They maintain a secure pool fence for their private swimming pools.

Let's all strive to make this an accident and fatality-free summer.

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