Enjoying an afternoon at the beach or pool is a beloved Australian past time and being safe in and around the water is paramount. Raising awareness of this important issue, YMCA SA is delivering water safety and education talks direct to preschool children at childcare centres, with the aim to give away 1000 free swimming lessons.
Drowning in Australia
Drowning continues to be the leading external cause of death in children under five years of age in Australia, with 29 deaths and countless more non-fatal incidents reported in 2017.
Children can drown in seconds in as little as 5cm of water. It can happen any place with a body of water, including pools, baths, spas, dams, rivers, creeks, garden ponds and buckets.
Swimming Lessons Save Lives
As alarming as the statistics are, drowning can be prevented and there are a few simple things you can do to help:
- Ensure the pool has a compliant pool barrier that is used correctly and maintained regularly.
- Ensure an active supervisor is always present; a responsible adult who is close (within arms-reach) and focused.
- Learn CPR. Remember that any attempt is better than none at all.
- Teach children water familiarisation and swimming skills.
The Royal Life Saving Society – Australia believes that children will be safer in the water by learning water safety, survival and swimming skills at an early age. Brenner et al (2009)* found a protective association between formal swimming lessons and the risk of drowning in children aged 1-4 years – an 88% interpreted reduction in the risk of drowning.
YMCA in Action
Knowing the link between water safety and learning to swim at a young age, the YMCA wants to introduce more children to swimming lessons.
To encourage participation, the YMCA is aiming to give away over 1,000 free swimming lessons annually, offering a free swimming lesson to all preschool children who have received a YMCA water safety talk.
Free Swim Lesson Request
Data obtained from the Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report 2017, accessed here.
Brenner, R.A., et al., 'Association Between Swimming Lessons and Drowning in Childhood. A Case-Control Study'. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 2009. 163(3): p. 203.210.