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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).


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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