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1 January, 2021

Supervision is the key to water safety

RECENT near miss drownings at public pools in Cairns have prompted a reminder for parents and caregivers to keep an eye on their children both in and out of the pool.

Swimming is one of the region’s most popular recreational activities, but unfortunately downing remains one of the leading causes of death in Queensland for children under the age of five.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said that parents and carers needed to supervise their children at public swimming pools, even if there was a lifeguard on duty.

“Many people mistakenly believe that once they enter a swimming pool, the responsibility for their child’s safety is transferred to the lifeguards,” Cr Manning said.

“Some parents also assume that other parents will keep an eye on their child. Every parent or guardian is responsible for the safety of their child.

“A lack of direct supervision by a parent or carer is believed to be a contributing factor in 70 per cent of all drowning deaths at public pools across Australia.

“It only takes a moment for a child to get into trouble, which is why keeping an eye on them at all times is so very important.”

The role of the lifeguard in a public pool facility is to oversee the safe running of the facility and ensure all patrons can safely enjoy their time.

Some of a lifeguard’s responsibilities include posting warning signs, establishing and enforcing safety rules, cleaning and clearing pool decks, and providing basic first aid.

“Often, lifeguards perform these responsibilities for hundreds of patrons at a time, so it is vital to always supervise your own child while at the pool,” Cr Manning said.

Cr Manning said it was also important people with a pool at home took time to ensure its fencing was effective and safe.

“Supervision, along with teaching children to swim and having effective pool fencing saves lives,” Cr Manning said.

“Make sure that your pool fence is compliant and importantly, pool gates close properly.

“There is lots of information on pool fence compliance and safety on our website ( as well as the QBBC website (”

Water safety tips

Constant supervision: Maintain visual contact, avoid distraction such as answering the phone, do not leave children under the age of 16 to supervise younger children and children under five should be within arms’ reach.

Fencing: Private swimming pools and spas must have a childproof safety barrier.

Learn first aid and resuscitation: Parents or carers should do a first aid course and learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the case of an emergency.

Teach children to swim: Swimming and water safety lessons are recommended for all children.

Stick to the rules: Always follow the directions of lifeguards and remember to swim between the flags when at a patrolled beach.

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