Mia Freedman wrote what on the surface looks like a really funny piece in the Sydney Morning Herald called “That thing you do” I encourage you to read to it… you will recognise yourself and almost everyone you know (and there is a great suggestion for a interesting conversation starter at your next gathering of friends)….
I titled this blog post “Child water safety is our thing – and it should be yours” because of a line that also appears in Mia’s article…
“Interestingly, one persons Thing is another persons Who Cares…”
When it comes to issues around child water safety this statement would really appear to be true. Too often when we do media around the issue of child water safety we inevitably get callers who say things like…”that won’t happen to me, I ALWAYS watch my kids” … or… “we grew up with a pool without a fence and nothing happened to us, don’t be so paranoid” or a million variations on why child water safety measures like pool fencing don’t apply to them.
What is their Thing?
I often wonder what things they do worry about for their children…. do they let them not wear seat belts, or not put them in a child restraint in the car, do they let them play on the street…. and then I look at statistics like those by the NSW Child Death Review team, which we reviewed in this post about the Child Death Review Team Annual Report. I wonder do these people realise that their young child is almost as likely to die from drowning as they are as a passenger in a motor vehicle accident, or that they are more likely to die from drowning than as a pedestrian…
Why drowning prevention should also be YOUR Thing
Some of us have our THING for really valid, backed up by proof reasons…. 33 children aged 0-4 died as a result of drowning last year.. 15o children aged 0-4 died as a result of drowning over the past 5 years… and then there are hospitalisations and disabilities as a result of non-fatal drowning (in Qld.. 6 hospitalisations for every drowning death, in NSW 8 for every death, in VIC approx 8 for every death… and research (Aust Institue of Health and Welfare 2008) shows as that almost a quarter of those hospistalised will experience some form of hypoxic brain injury leading to life long disabilities……
Working on our Thing!
Out THING has one aspect going for it…. there are very practical things that can be done about our THING… those proven actions are
- Always SUPERVISE young children in and around water (if they are under five be in the water with them with your full attention)
- POOL FENCING or SAFE PLAY AREAS correctly installed and maintained pool fencing isolating the pool, or creating a safe play area on rural properties and farms creates a barrier for those times when the kids slip out of site (go to www.chw.edu.au/kidshealth/pool_fencing to watch a video and get other resources to see if your pool fencing complies and what you can do about it if it doesn’t)
- WATER FAMILIARISATIONget your kids familiar with the water and engaged in acquatics programs as early as possible (see www.austswim.com.au or www.swimaustralia.com.au or www.kidsalive.com.au )
- LEARN CPR the sad reality is that a parent or care-giver are often the first to find a child face down in the water and knowing CPR could well mean the difference between life and death… you can obtain CPR in a box from here a $50 investment that can be used to teach EVERY member of your household CPR Skills
Have FUN, but join our THING!
So go ahead, read Mia Freedman’s great piece have a great chuckle with your friends next time you have a gathering… but PLEASE join us in making child drowning prevention one of YOUR Things and get cracking on doing all of the FOUR THINGS that can stop children drowning!