February 15, 2017
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