National drowning figures released

Spike in infant deaths sparks call for parental vigilance.

Lack of supervision costs lives

Parents are urged to be alert when children are around water, with a 32% spike in children under five drowning in financial year 2016/17 compared with the year before.

Figures from the 2017 Royal Life Saving Drowning Report reveal that 29 children under five drowned in 2016/17, with almost half of deaths (45%) occurring in swimming pools.

Swimming pool drownings "pose a significant drowning risk to toddlers", says Justin Scarr, Royal Life Saving CEO, although they are down 13% against the 10-year average. Parents are urged to ensure that pool fences and gates are in good working order.

Pool fence safety

In 76% of 2016/17 cases, children under five drowned after they fell into a body of water. Swimming pools are the leading location for drowning in this age group, the report states. Worryingly, a 75% increase was also recorded in the number of children under five drowning in bathtubs and spa baths, signifying the importance of adult supervision no matter where the water source is.

A compliant pool fence that meets Australian standards is a necessity to help keep kids safe around the pool. Once installed, the gate must never be propped open, and its self-latching and self-closing mechanisms should be regularly checked for wear and tear.

According to pool fencing experts, gates will last between five and 10 years, depending on how they're used. See more tips on buying and maintaining a pool fence, or read our pool fence reviews.

Constant, active adult supervision is still crucial when children are around the pool. For more key strategies, see the Royal Life Saving Society's Keep Watch program, which aims to prevent drowning deaths of children under five in all aquatic locations.