Drowning death of toddler prompts backyard pool warning

A two-year-old Melbourne boy yesterday become the latest backyard pool drowning victim – the same day that figures were released showing that one in 10 drowning in Australia involve pre-school aged children.

elijah meldrum

Lisa Carter found her son Elijah (pictured) floating in a friend’s backyard pool in Melton, west of Melbourne, yesterday. The toddler could not be revived. A fund has now been set up to help his devastated family pay his funeral costs, as authorities investigate whether a faulty pool gate may be to blame.

Elijah’s death came the same day that the Royal Life Saving Society Australia released its national report showing 26 other children younger than five died from drowning last year.

The National Drowning Report reveals that home swimming pools accounted for more than half the drowning deaths of young children – so what can you do to protect your family?

When the weather heats up in Australia, we head to the water. Be it the beach, river – or if you’re lucky enough, your own backyard pool. We grow up being taught about water safety. We all know that we should never take our eyes off our children when they’re in or around water. We know pools must be fenced. Yet somehow, children keep dying.

There’s been a 30 per cent spike in the number of children aged four and under who drowned in Australia in the past year. Royal Life Saving Society Australia CEO, Justin Scarr says it’s alarming.

“Active adult supervision and restricting access to water, through properly installed and correctly maintained pool fences, are key strategies to reduce these tragic child drowning incidents,” he says.

“Supervision is a key factor, and often it is either intermittent or absent altogether. Home swimming pools continue to be the leading location for drowning in young children. This is an alarming sign and we urge people to remember the four key actions of the Keep Watch program; Supervise, Restrict Access to Water, Water Awareness and Resuscitation.”

There were no drowning fatalities of children aged between 10 and 17 years, and Royal Life Saving says this highlights the importance of basic swimming and water safety skills.

Royal Life Saving has come up with a checklist of actions to help prevent young children from drowning:

  • Always ensure your child is actively supervised around water
  • The adult who is watching the child should have physical contact with them, or be within arms’ reach
  • Make sure your pool fence is installed correctly, maintained regularly and the gate is always closed
  • Have a safe play area that restricts your child’s access to water around your home
  • Give the kids some clear, simple rules – like no going near water without an adult
  • Enrol your kids in water familiarisation lessons
  • Learn CPR, or update your skills
  • Empty containers around the home that can hold water

If you have a backyard pool, take the time to go through Royal Life Saving’s safety checklist.

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