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Emma Cockburn on Driveway Safety

Emma Cockburn on Driveway Safety

On the 16th April 2011, our world was changed forever in an instant, when daddy came home from work - like he did every other day - reversed the tool trailer and ute into the garage, and accidentally ran over our youngest of four beautiful little girls, Georgina. The effect was instant, and we lost our baby girl on the spot.

We had thought, like any other parent, that our kids were safe in their own home. We had deliberately built our house with kids in mind; play areas at one end of the house, garage at the other, a safe fenced-off backyard area where they could play, well away from the garage and driveway.

It never occurred to us that the access door between the house and garage would be an issue.  Standard building practice (as we knew, running our own residential building business) was to have all internal door handles at a height of 900mm from the floor. If only we had known ahead of time about installing a self-closer, and placing the door handle higher up out of a toddler’s reach!

Keeping Kids Safe around Cars

Every day we get into our cars without a second thought- to take the kids to day care, school, swimming lessons, soccer, go shopping for groceries, or to get to work and home again.

Every time we get into our cars without that second thought, is an occasion where an accident could occur unexpectedly. In Australia, approximately 60 children are severely injured, and at least 6 or 7 die every year because of Low Speed Vehicle Run Over (LSVRO) accidents.

In our rushed everyday world, we are distracted by phones, emails, thoughts of work, or simply the mountain of chores we have to get done once we’ve got the bigger kids to school. Even without those distractions, we may think we know where our kids are, then in a flash they are gone, as they move so quickly. LSVRO accidents can happen in a matter of seconds. However, simple measures may help prevent these tragic consequences.

The key words to remember are SUPERVISE, SEPARATE, SEE.


Children are unpredictable, so close, active supervision by the adults around them is the best protection.

Active supervision means being there with children when getting into or out of cars, when seeing visitors off. It means physically checking where the kids are when a vehicle is moving on, off or around your property.

Teach children that cars are not toys, and we shouldn’t play in or around them. Treat the driveway like a road- would you let your children play on the road? Set up a system so that everyone knows where the kids are when coming and going - for example, ‘I know Mum’s due home from work in a minute, I’ll just check where everyone is and make sure they are together in the lounge room.’


Separating children from where vehicles are can help prevent LSVRO accidents. As parents, we are human and cannot be everywhere at once, especially when we have more than one child to chase after! So, we ask that people look at their own home environments and consider:

  • Is it possible to fence the driveway or is there a safe, fenced off area in the backyard where children can play, where there is no access to garages and driveways?
  • Do you have a garage attached to your house, with an access door between the two? Does it have a high handle/lock, self closer, and swing into the house so children cannot push it open into the garage?
  • Do you keep the front and back door locked when everyone is playing in the house? Many people have stories of small children suddenly discovering they can reach, and open, the door handle and next thing they are out on the driveway or even road!

If there is a locked door or gate, or fence or wall between a car and a child- there is less chance of an accident happening. (For more details, click here).


Make a habit of taking the long way round to the driver’s door, before getting in to drive your vehicle, to check if anyone or anything is there. Accidents can happen when the vehicle moves forward as well as in reverse. Remember that reversing cameras and sensors are great tools- but they will not stop an accident happening. We always need to:

  • Be aware of what is going on around us;
  •  Keep using all mirrors and reversing cameras if available; and
  •  Check over shoulders and be aware of your vehicle’s blind spots.

Remember - kids are quick - no technology is a replacement for an alert driver!

These measures are appropriate not just in our own homes, but anywhere you take your children to.

Talk with your family and friends – and any babysitters - so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to vehicles and your children. How will you get the adults in your children’s lives to help you put ‘Supervise, Separate, See’ into action at your place and theirs?

The Georgina Josephine Foundation aims to promote awareness of low speed vehicle run over (LSVRO) prevention measures, and to support families affected by such accidents. Dealing the aftermath of a LSVRO can be devastating for all involved, so if you, or someone you know has been affected by such an incident, please contact us on 02 6382 6930, via our website www.gjfoundation.com.au or message us through our Facebook page.


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Who is watching the kids?

Last month we shared some common child safety myths. This month, we are bringing you another misconception about child safety, one that is most prevalent on public holidays like Labour Day.

Summer days spent around the pool can be great fun for families. Having lots of adults present may seem like there is added supervision for children in the pool, but did you know that this situation can actually lead to a lapse in vigilance?

pexels photo 61129

Image source: Pexels

Lifesavers often refer to the ‘everyone is watching’ phenomenon, when adults become less vigilant supervising their children in the pool, when they believe that one of the other adults present is supervising for them.

This is exactly the situation that turned into a nightmare for American mother Rachel, when her daughter almost drowned in a backyard spa:

‘I left her sitting on the deck chair as I packed up a few things. We had six adults standing there so I felt like I could relax a bit. After all, what could go wrong with so much supervision?’

Luckily, Rachel’s daughter was pulled from the spa and was able to be revived. Later, doctors said that in another 30 seconds, her daughter’s heart would have stopped. The terrifying incident left Rachel asking the question, ‘How does this happen? It took only minutes. There were plenty of adults around. None of us heard a thing.’

Rachel’s story is not uncommon. Toddler drowning is quick and silent. 20 seconds and a few centimetres is all it takes, which is why constant and active adult supervision is crucial for children around any type of water.

How to avoid the ‘everyone is watching’ trap:

In situations like BBQ’s or gatherings when there are several adults and children around the pool, nominate one adult at a time who is responsible for supervising the children.

If there are lots of children, you may need to have more than one designated supervisor at a time.

This role can be rotated throughout the day, so that everyone gets a chance to relax and there is no confusion about who is watching the kids.

Life Saving Victoria suggest that the nominated person should wear a ‘supervisor hat’, which needs to be taken off and given to the next person when you leave the pool area.

In the case of toddlers, they need to be within arm’s reach of an adult at all times around the water.

These simple steps, together with checking your pool fence and having up-to-date CPR skills, could potentially save a child’s life.

For more information on keeping children safe around water, please visit http://kidsafevic.com.au/water-safety

Have you ever experienced the ‘everyone is watching’ situation? What do you do to keep children safe around the pool?


Kidsafe Victoria is part of the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia. We are a non-profit organisation dedicated to making a safer world for kids. To find out more about what we do, check out our website: www.kidsafevic.com.au

5 Myths about Child Safety

Children are naturally curious and often don’t recognise danger- in fact, more often than not, they seem to actively seek it!

There is a lot of advice around how to keep our kids from getting into sticky situations. Some of the advice is helpful, some is funny and some is just completely untrue. So we thought we’d help you separate fact from fiction with our first blog.

Here are 5 of the most common child safety myths:

Myth 1. Kids are going to get hurt, you can’t stop it from happening.

It is true, kids are going to take risks and cuts and scrapes are a part of growing up. However, a serious unintentional injury is very different from a scraped knee.

In Victoria alone, approximately 19 children die due to unintentional injuries every year.

These serious injuries are preventable – and we hope that we can provide you with some useful strategies to keep your child safe.

Myth 2. Drowning is noisy.

We’ve all seen the movies where a person who is drowning waves their arms frantically and calls for help.

The truth is- drowning is actually silent.

A toddler who is drowning is unlikely to cry out or wave their arms around. They can swallow water and drown in just 20 seconds (read one Mother’s story of just how fast children can get into trouble in the water).


drowning crop

Figure Source: Pixabay.com

Drowning is quick and silent, so make sure children are always within arm’s reach and that you never take your eyes off children around water.

Myth 3. Age is the best indicator of when to move your child into their next child car restraint

It is a common misconception that a child should move to the next child car restraint / seat belt once they reach a certain age- but did you know that it is safer for children to remain in their current restraint for as long as they fit its size limit? This includes leaving children in booster seats for as long as possible, even if they are over 7 years old.

All new child restraints come with shoulder height markers that show exactly when a child is able to progress to the next restraint. 

age restraint

Children should only move to the next restraint once they exceed the maximum height limit, not just because they have celebrated a birthday.  

For more information, please read the National Child Restraint Guidelines

Myth 4. Reversing sensors and cameras eliminate the risk of driveway run-overs

All cars have a blind spot and while reversing cameras are useful in providing greater visibility, they don’t eliminate this blind spot completely. It still may be difficult to notice a small child behind the car.

Children can also move surprisingly fast and find themselves in dangerous situations. Recently, a Perth toddler was tragically killed in driveway run-over incident. The car was fitted with reversing sensors.

It is important that we don’t become complacent when using proximity sensors, as there is no substitute for active, adult supervision.

Myth 5. Poisons with child proof caps can only be opened by an adult

The caps on medication bottles and some cleaning products are designed to be difficult for children to open – but not impossible. In fact, adults often find them harder to open than toddlers, who can often defeat the lid by using their mouths. Keep in mind that these caps are child resistant, not child proof, therefore all medications and cleaning products need to be kept at least 1.5 metres off the ground in a locked cupboard. For more tips to prevent poisoning, click here.

Is there another common child safety myth that we have missed? Let us know in the comments below.


Kidsafe Victoria is part of the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Australia. We are a non-profit organisation dedicated to making a safer world for kids. To find out more about what we do, check out our website: www.kidsafevic.com.au