Tag Archive Toddler drowning

Barbara’s story

Barbara is a 3.5 year old girl from the Philippines. She is from a non-English speaking family and came to Australia only six months ago.

Back home, Barbara experienced a non-fatal drowning incident which involved falling into a body of water. Her mother watched helplessly as she herself could not swim and was unable to rescue her. Thankfully a neighbour moved swiftly and jumped to Barbara’s rescue.

In the Philippines, drowning is a leading killer with an average of 3,276 deaths per year. Many children live near open water sources, such as ponds, irrigation channels, rivers or have uncovered open wells. More children aged 5-14 years die from drowning than from any other cause.

Fatal and non-fatal drownings are not accurately reported in the Philippines as many low and middle-income families cannot afford medical bills associated with hospitalisation and funerals.

Just two months after arriving in Australia, Barbara’s mother enrolled her into the Survival and Learn to Swim Program with Kids Aquatic Survival School (KASS).

In just five weeks, Barbara learnt to roll from front to back to breathe and remain in a floating breathing posture until help arrives. She further learnt to roll back to front and swim and repeat this sequence of swimming and floating until she reaches safety or the edge.

Barbara learnt all of this with Kids Aquatic Survival School in 25 lessons and remarkably without speaking or understanding English.

That’s what makes the KASS Survival and Learn to Swim Program so unique. The skills Barbara learnt are taught through non-verbal prompts and procedures. So, should Barabra ever find herself in an aquatic emergency, she knows to respond to the environment not the instructor. Barbara is not a strong swimmer, but she now understands when faced with a dangerous aquatic environment, to float calmly and not panic.

Before Barbara and her mother return home to the Philippines, Mum is continuing to reinforce the survival skills with Barbara and also learning to swim here in Australia. Both mother and child can then translate these life-saving survival skills to their community back home and help further educate everyone on the importance of water safety.

Because, together education and skills are vital in achieving zero drownings.


Royal Life Saving Drowning Report 2017

The Royal Life Saving Drowning Report for 2016/17 serves as a sobering reminder the barriers advocated by the industry to protect our children in and around water are failing.

  • 32% increase in the drowning deaths in children aged 0-4 years
  • 45% of children aged 0-4 years drowned in a backyard swimming pool and is the leading location of drowning deaths in children aged 0 – 4 years.
  • 76% of children who drown do so due to falls into water.

“There were between 600 and 700 hospitalisations due to ‘non-fatal drownings’ each year in Australia and children under five made up almost half of those.”

~Royal Lifesaving Australia national manager for research and policy Amy Peden~

  • The latest research by Royal Life Saving – Australia states between 1 July 2002 and 30 June 2015 there were 6,158 cases of non-fatal drowning in Australia that resulted in hospitalisation. As such, when a victim survives a drowning incident, they rarely walk away unharmed.tragically, many of them suffer irreversible brain damage. It is likely to severely impact the rest of their life, and the lives of their loved ones. Often referred to as the forgotten or invisible victims as it is usually the drowning victims who are mostly covered in the media.
    * There are an average of 474 non-fatal drowning incidents each year.
    * Non-fatal incidents have increased by 42% in 13 years.
    * Young children aged 0-4 years accounted for 42% of all non-fatal drowning incidents.
    * Non-fatal drowning incidents in children aged 0-4 years is between 5 and 14 times higher than any other age group.
    * Swimming pools are the leading location for non-fatal drowning, accounting for 36% of incidents.
    * Children under the age of five years account for 78% of non-fatal drowning

“We want them to understand that drowning isn’t just about children dying or having miraculous survival stories – there’s a whole group of children who experience non-fatal drownings and are left with a whole range of devastating injuries”

~ Michael Morris – Samuel Morris Foundation ~

We need a hands on approach to water safety. Teaching a person to float, breathe and wait for help is a life saving skill which can be translated across all ages and aquatic environments.

People don’t drown due to a lack of swimming ability. They drown because they are unable to hold and maintain an effective body posture for breathing.

At Kids Aquatic Survival School, we are addressing the drowning epidemic by teaching infants and young children aquatic survival skills.

Such as, how to:
– roll from a front to a back float
– maintain an independent back float and breathing posture
– reach, grab and turn to safety
– combine swimming and floating to breathe and break up large distances to reach safety or the edge.

But most importantly once the child has completed the KASS Survival program and is fully skilled, the child simulates an accidental fall into water. This allows the child to apply their newly learnt skills in a safe and controlled environment wearing full winter clothing including shoes and nappy. This is a vital step because it is a very different sensory experience swimming or floating in clothes. We do this as the RLSS National Drowning report notes 76% of children who drown, do so due to falls into water. It usually occurs when they are fully clothed and have wandered to water unnoticed. It is a crucial skill for the child to learn, so should they ever fall into water fully clothed, it won’t be the first time they have performed this skill.


If you would like to read the whole report Click Here