Watch Around Water is an education and public awareness raising program to address the growing concern regarding supervision of young children at public swimming pools.
Children need supervision! Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death in children under five years of age and almost half of all injuries recorded at public swimming pools involves children. Watch Around Water assists aquatic staff to promote safe supervision practices and provide a safe venue for the community to participate in sport and recreation.
‘Watch Around Water is the single most important program for the aquatics industry in terms of safety’ — WA Pool Manager
The program promotes consistent supervision policies:
- Children under five years age must be accompanied into the centre by a responsible adult and supervise within arms reach at all times while in the centre
- Children under 10 years must be accompanied into the centre by a responsible adult and supervised within line of sight at all times while in the centre
- All unsupervised children will be removed from the water
These policies are seen to be best practice and state the minimum standard required. Some centres may operate at higher levels.
The Watch Around Water program has been successful in significantly reducing the number of drowning deaths, near-drowning incidents and injuries at public swimming pools.
Watch Around Water was started in 2004 in Western Australia following a spate of tragic drowning deaths involving young children at public swimming pools. The incidents prompted the WA Coroner to state that:
‘Competent lifeguards acting responsibly should provide an important safety feature, but they are not intended to, and cannot be expected to replace the close supervision of parents which is required for many children. Public awareness needs to ensure that adults in the community understand that supervision of children in the water must be direct, competent and alert.’