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Families urged to be cautious around water on private properties to prevent farm drownings

Life Saving Victoria, Kidsafe Victoria and Farmsafe Australia are calling for caution around water on private properties this farm safety week (17 - 23 July) in a bid to prevent child drownings.

By news@gippsland - 20th July 2022 - Back to News

The warning comes after Coroner Judge John Cain released his findings into the drowning death of two-year-old Hunter Boyle in Shepparton in August 2020, including recommendations to increase public awareness of the risks around water on farms and private properties. LSV general manager health promotion and communication Dr Bernadette Matthews said even one drowning is one too many, and that the three organisations were committed to working together to implement the recommendations and prevent further tragedy.

Always keep watch of your child in and around water, supervision is the single most important thing you can do to keep your children safe around water

Always keep watch of your child in and around water, supervision is the single most important thing you can do to keep your children safe around water

Most effective prevention

Dr Bernadette Matthews said, "It's paramount that people understand just how quickly children can get into serious danger around water. It takes just 20 seconds and a few centimetres of water to drown - that's less time than it takes to boil the kettle."

"Kids are active and inquisitive and can get away from you before you even notice they're gone, which is why we strongly advocate for safe barriers around water to restrict access. It's one of the most effective prevention strategies against drowning for young children."

Opt for something brighter

If children do get away from you, Farmsafe Australia chair Felicity Richards said ensuring they're wearing brightly coloured clothing can make them easier to spot, sooner.

"Avoid dressing kids in dull greens, browns, or greys, and instead opt for something brighter that stands out in all environments. This can help you spot them before they slip away, and make it easier to find them if they do go missing."

"It's good advice for kids on farms generally to wear bright clothes. It's much easier to see a child from a tractor or other farm machinery if they're in fluro." Mrs Richards said.

Inspect your property

Finally, Kidsafe Victoria general manager Jason Chambers said ensuring there are no items floating in dams or other bodies of water was another important mitigant against childhood drowning.

"Little ones can become fixated on reaching floating objects in dams, ponds, and pools. This can create a safety hazard, particularly when moss or other plants have obscured the water's surface, leading to kids unexpectedly falling into water." Mr Chambers said.

Emergency action plan in place

Mr Chambers added, "This farm safety week, we're encouraging people to inspect their properties and remove any floating objects from bodies of water that may attract children. If you have children around the home or water on your property, you should have an emergency action plan in place for water safety."

"That means knowing where water is located and checking there first as soon as you realise your child is missing, having a means of calling for help, and critically, knowing CPR. It could save your child's life if the unthinkable was to happen." Mr Chambers said.

Head to Royal Life Saving Society Australia's Keep Watch campaign website for more information about keeping children safe around water, or to Farmsafe's website more ways to stay safe on farms.

Pictures from Life Saving Victoria website.


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