The 2010 National Drowning Report said 33 children aged under five drowned last year.
Royal Life Saving CEO Rob Bradley said the majority of toddler drowning deaths happened on weeknights between 4pm and 7pm.
‘‘As much as 70 per cent of drowning in children under five years stems from a lack of supervision,’’ he said.
‘‘Close to 50 per cent of toddler drowning deaths were in a home pool. In the past five years alone, more than 150 children under the age of five have drowned.’’
For every drowning death it is estimated there are a further four hospitalisations and up to half of those toddlers will sustain permanent brain damage.
Mr Bradley said it was essential that home pool owners across Sydney reviewed their safety equipment as the hotter months approached.
To help home pool owners, Royal Life Saving and partner PoolWerx have developed a home pool safety checklist, several fact sheets and a range of educational tools that can be found at homepoolsafety.com.au.
Mr Bradley said broken fence gates turned home pools into death-traps.
‘‘Everyone needs to put their home pool through the Royal Life Saving Home Pool Safety Checklist,’’ he said.
‘‘Some people don’t realise that over time or as a result of something as simple as a big storm your pool fence may weaken, rust or break, rendering it useless and turning the home pool into a lethal hazard.
‘‘The simple fact that child drowning is rising is alarming. Drowning is Australia’s hidden epidemic.
‘‘It is frustrating that some home pool owners still question their need for a pool fence.
‘‘Too many people say ‘I’ll get around to checking the fencing and I’ll do it when I can’. We highlight the time for action is right now.’’
Parramatta Council and the Parramatta Eels have teamed up to promote the importance of swim safety.
With children making up 70 per cent of more than 300 drownings in NSW last year, the council’s ‘Stay Alert’ Swim Safety Campaign encourages pool owners to be extra vigilant.
Parramatta Eels winger Luke Burt — who has two children — said safety around backyard pools should be the priority for anyone with kids.
‘‘We always keep our pool gate locked and whenever the kids want to have a swim we will always be there to supervise them,” he said.
“If everyone ensures their fence is secure and follows regulations, plus there is always someone supervising when the kids are in the pool, we won’t hear about these backyard tragedies anymore.”
SURF SAFETY TIPS
■ Always swim or surf at patrolled beaches
■ Swim between the red and yellow flags. They mark the safe areas
■ Never swim, surf or fish alone
■ Read and obey the signs
■ Be aware of rip currents (know how to spot one and how to escape from one)
■ Don’t swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
■ Never run or dive in the water, even if you have checked before as water conditions can change
■ If in doubt, stay out
■ Seek advice from the lifesavers and lifeguards
HOM E POOL SAFETY CHECKLIST:
■ Child supervised within arms’ reach when in, on, or around the pool or spa
■ Pool fenced effectively
■ Gate is self-closing and selflatching and never propped open
■ Pool regularly maintained
■ Completed checklist from homepoolsafety.com.au.
■ Child enrolled in a water awareness class
■ Enrolled in a CPR course
WA TER SAFETY ON HOLIDAYS CHECKLIST:
■ Checked conditions with a local to the area before entering
■ Swim in patrolled areas, where possible.
■ Condition of all equipment checked before use.
■ Observed for changing weather conditions
■ Observed conditions of water before entering
■ Watched out for other people or watercraft when in the water
■ Ensured children are actively supervised
■ Refrained from drinking alcohol