Parents of young children are being urged to be extra careful around pools this summer with new research finding the risk of drowning triples once a child turns one.
According to new research by Royal Life Saving, 222 one-year-old children have drowned over the past 20 years, representing a whopping 40 per cent of all drowning deaths of children under the age of five.
Royal Life Saving chief executive Justin Scarr is warning parents to be aware of the “heightened risk” and to stay vigilant around pools this summer.
“As children become more mobile, they are curious and unpredictable,” he said.
“It is vital you keep constant watch and restrict access to water around the home. We are reminding parents that ‘kids can’t help themselves around water, you need to’.”
The research has been published in time for summer in the hope of reminding parents and carers about the risks of child drownings.
Drownings for children are heightened in summer, with 38 per cent of all deaths occurring between December and February.
Children aged up to four years old represent the highest number of pool drowning deaths over the past 20 years, with 282 children dying since 2002.
Of these deaths, 85 per cent occurred at a backyard pool and 44 per cent were aged just one-year-old.
The research found most children who died were able to access the backyard pool unsupervised through a gate that had not been closed properly.
Drowning rates for children aged up to four have reduced by 59 per cent over the past 20 years, but it remains a leading cause of accidental death.
The decrease can be attributed to regulations around pool fencing and the growing need for children to be supervised around pools.
There are an average of 27 drowning incidents each year involving children.
“This is the time of year to check your pool fence and gate,” Mr Scarr said.
“If there is a lapse in supervision, a correctly installed and regularly maintained pool barrier can prevent your child from drowning. It is important that pools gates are not propped open for any reason. Always check you’ve locked the pool gate behind you and restrict children’s access to outdoor areas without adult supervision.”