Samuel Morris Foundation Managing Director, Michael Morris, said “The near drowning of a one year old boy at Melinga on the NSW North Coast and the near drowning of a two year old boy at Lindfield in the Northern Suburbs are among six drowning related incidents responded to by emergency services in NSW on New Years Day, five of them occurring in the space of one hour.”
“These figures highlight the message that we have been trying to get the community and government decision makers to listen to for a long time… and that message is that for every drowning death there are many more people who experience a near (non-fatal) drowning and a significant proportion of these result in some form of brain injury and disability for life,” he said.
“Just last week the NSW Ambulance service highlighted that they had responded to over 526 near drowning incidents in NSW over a two year period”
“This message is important because it shows that the problem with water safety and drowning incidents is far greater than the reported headlines which often focus on drowning death rates. Near (non-fatal) drownings are a hidden epidemic within our community and unless we make the community more aware of the impact that near (non-fatal) drownings have, both the community and decision makers will continue to perceive the problem as less than significant and will not give drowning prevention and awareness messages and campaigns the attention they need ”
Mr Morris said “as the parent of a child who is one of those left severely disabled as a result of near drowning, and as Managing Director of Australia’s only charity supporting children disabled by near drownings I know only too well the difficulties faced by near drowning survivors and their families, and the impact that these events have on the children’s siblings and their wider circle of relatives and friends, as well as on the emergency services personnel who respond to them and the medical staff involved in the ongoing care of these survivors.“
We are working hard with a range of partners to reduce the incidence of both fatal and non fatal drownings in Australia and accordingly the Samuel Morris Foundation wishes to reinforce the following safety messages…
- We encourage all pool owners to visit our partner website www.homepoolsafety.com.au to obtain a check sheet to help them check the safety of their backyard swimming pool and a range of other information and checksheets on water safety and drowning prevention.
- We encourage parents to visit our partner website www.chw.edu.au/kidshealth/pool_fencing to watch a video of common pool fencing faults and how to rectify them, and to obtain further safety information on toddler drowning prevention.
- We remind people that alcohol and water activities can be a recipe for disaster, people will often over estimate their ability, or underestimate the impact of alcohol on their usual skill level… Alcohol and water don’t mix
- Supervision – always keep children under five at arms reach when in or around water, and at parties designate an adult as the pool supervisor and share this responsibility around (a kit to help you do this can be obtained from our partner Royal Life at http://rlssa.cart.net.au/details/820072.html
- Restrict Access – put a barrier around the water, and ensure that the barrier is correctly installed and well maintained. Barriers such as pool fencing are the last line of defense in preventing toddler drowning
- Water Familiarisation – help your child to be familiar with the water and associated risks
- Learn Resuscitation – if the unimaginable happens…. Knowing CPR can be vital until professional help arrives, and may make the difference between life, a good outcome or death.
Link to Sydney Morning Herald news article – 5 near drownings in one hour