Childsafe SA warns of drownings

ChildSafe warns parents ahead of summer season.

With the festive season upon us, more families gather at the beach or the pool and the risk of child drownings grows, warns Childsafe South Africa.

The injury-prevention unit at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital says drowning is the second leading cause of death among children in South Africa.

“Drowning is a fast and silent killer.

A child can lose consciousness after 90 to 120 seconds,” says executive director, Yolande Baker.

A child can drown in as little as 4cm of water – drownings can happen not only in swimming pools but also in buckets of water and toilets.

Ms Baker says there are several precautions one can take to prevent drowning:

● Teach children, whatever their age, to always respect water.

● Teach children at an early age how to swim.

● Children should always wear a life jacket when in water, especially those with special needs.

● Children with special needs are mostly likely not able to swim independently, so they should always have someone with them in the water.

● Actively supervise your children when near water.

● Never leave a small child alone in a bath.

● Always support babies in the bath to avoid them slipping under the water.

● Keep the toilet doors closed and the toilet lid down when you have children at home.

● The law requires that pools should be fenced off from the road or a neighbour’s property.

● Restrict access to pools by fencing your pool with a self-closing latch.

● Cover your swimming pool with a safety net.

● Discourage riding tricycles or bicycles near pools.

● Discourage running and playing games near water.

● Do not let your children swim when there is a warning sign or when there are strong currents.

If your child starts to struggle in water, immediately call a lifeguard or 112 from your cellphone for help.

For more information on preventing drowning, call Childsafe at 021 685 5208 or visit