This Much… Infant Drowning Facts and Tips
I recently received an email from Jo Butler at Platinum Media and Communications asking me to share this important message. She is part of a team working to reduce the number of babies and toddlers who drown or nearly drown at home in Australia each year by warning parents that an infant can drown in only the amount of water it takes to cover their two airways.
Most people know that young children can drown in the pool or at the beach. Few realise that babies and toddlers can drown just as easily at home. In the bath. In a paddling pool. In a nappy bucket. In a pond. In a puddle. In fact, in only as much water as it takes to cover both their mouth and nostrils.
The “This Much” Facebook page and video message have been created to help get this fact known.
By sharing the message, everyone can be part of this valuable effort. There is no money for advertising. There is only the power of the message and the power of social media. So, we are calling upon Australians to visit the Facebook page at facebook.com/thismuch, hit either “Share” or “Like”, post or mention the page in your blog, or just tell someone.
It’s not much to do, but it could make a real difference.
Who’s behind the campaign?
The campaign is a pure “goodwill” effort, with everyone involved donating their time, services and skills. Parents first and marketers second, Stuart Ghent and Nik Robinson of Sydney advertising agency, Cabana Boys, were moved to do something about the issue after a spate of infant drownings and near drownings earlier in the year.
Celebrity support has come from David Wenham, Amanda Keller, Kyle Sandilands, Jackie O, Jabba, Hayden Quinn, Shelley Craft, Georgie Gardner, and Peter Overton.
Medical specialists who have had to look after children and their families after drowning incidents have welcomed the chance to support this campaign. Such specialists include Prof. Danny Cass, Head of Trauma at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, and specialists with CareFlight such as Dr Alan Garner, OAM and Dr. Andrew Weatherall, who also practices anaesthesia at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
The announcement was produced, filmed and edited by ex series producer of ABC’s Enough Rope, Harley Oliver.
Everyone involved -‐ from the originators of the idea, to the featured celebrities, to the video crew, to the publicists, to the news teams, to the medical specialists consulted along the way -‐ has done so without payment and with no wish for reward.
The Children’s Hospital at Westmead data
- Since 2006, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) has seen 88 kids after a drowning or near drowning. Nearly 1 in 6 of those kids dies (that’s 14 across those 51⁄2 years (or 16%), which still means another 5 kids had a near drowning for every 1 who died
- There were 21 kids (that’s another 24%) in addition to those who died who needed to spend time within the intensive care unit on life support. So that’s 40% of the kids the hospital sees who either die or need a period of life support.
- Almost as many the kids seen at CHW had an incident in the bath or another shallow body of water as had an incident in the public pool (14 post-‐bath vs 15 from public pool). And all 14 of those incidents in baths or other small water areas have happened over the last 31⁄2 years
- The CHW records show that almost any small body of water puts children at risk. Kids have come in after drowning, not just in pools, lakes and dams, but also:
- In baths filled with as little as 15 cm of water
- In inflatable pools
- Backyard fishponds
- When having a bath in a plastic bowl
- The laundry tub
- The NSW Institute of Trauma and Injury Management reports that in 2008, CHW saw 64 seriously injured kids after all forms of trauma, with three of those children dying. In the same year, two kids died from drowning (with 15 presentations after drowning). So three kids died after being severely injured in car accidents, being the pedestrian struck by a car, major falls, assault and all other forms of accident (< 5% of all kids presenting after sustaining severe injuries) in the same year that two kids died after drowning (13.3% of kids presenting after drowning). That means that drowning on its own killed almost as many children that year as all other forms of trauma put together.
2009/2010 Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report
- The number of people drowning in Australia increased for the second year in a row.
- Children, particularly those under five years of age are some of the most vulnerable people in our population. We as a community should be doing our utmost to ensure their safety. Child drowning is preventable, particularly in those under five years of age.
- 0-‐4 years stats: 15% of drownings occurred in bath and spa o 58% of drownings occurred in summer
- Most drowning deaths of young children resulted from the child falling or wandering into water
- There were 33 drowning deaths of young children (10% of all drowning deaths) in 2009/10, which is 7% higher than the 5 year average.
- The 2009/10 year also lists children as having drowned in buckets, cattle dip and a spa demonstrating that anywhere there is water there is a potential hazard for children to drown2010/2011 Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report
- The total number of drownings increased for the 3rd year in a row
- The number of drownings in the under 5 age group fell for the 2010/2011 financial year (from 33 to 28). Although this is fantastic news, a lot of this reduction was from a drop in the number of drowning deaths in swimming pools. The number of drowning deaths occurring in spas and baths, for instance, changed minimallyRoyal Life Saving National Drowning Report Bath Time Fact Sheet
- In Australia, on average, 5 children under the age of 5 drown and 47 are hospitalized due to bathtub drowning or near drowning incidents each year. One in four hospitalizations results in permanent injury such as brain damage.
- The majority of bathtub drowning deaths occur when there is an interruption to the bathing routine such as the doorbell or phone ringing while a parent is bathing a child. The majority of bathtub drowning deaths in Australia are of children less than 2 years old.LIFE SAVING TIPS
- Check around the house, throughout your day, to see how many times your kids are at risk around water and eliminate this risk
- Empty out anything you’ve been using or playing with – eg inflatable pools, bowls, buckets, baby baths, eskies
- Close the bathroom door
- Let the other thing wait – it only takes seconds for a child to get into trouble
- Older Kids aren’t carers -‐ don’t leave your kids looking after each other. Even the most diligent and caring older child doesn’t have the capacity of an adult to prevent a drowning
- Kids need close supervision around all collections of water. Supervision means eyesight, not earshot. You need to be able to reach your kid!Please take the time to share this important message on your Facebook page, blog, email or in any way you can. If it saves just one life then it has all been worthwhile.
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