Drowning prevention

Please see the following pages for more information on:

Drowning is the leading external cause of death for children under five years of age.

In NSW, in 2013-14, six children under five years of age drowned.1 A further 70 children were admitted to hospital for near drowning.2 Children under five years of age have the highest mortality rate out of any age group, with approximately 60% of drowning occurring in swimming pools.1,2

Children can drown in as little as 5cm of water, when left unsupervised. Pools are an obvious risk but children can also drown in baths, spas, dams, rivers, creeks, garden ponds and nappy buckets.

NSW study of drowning and near drowning in children (0-16)


Watch our water safety video where new data from the study is detailed, a family talk about their experience with near drowning in their backyard pool, and drowning prevention strategies are discussed by professionals at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

The study will continue for an additional three years at which time a second report will be produced.

Access the full report and the infographics poster from the downloads section below.

What Can You Do to Prevent Drowning?


  • Always supervise children in and around water and stay within arm's reach of children aged 0-4 years.

  • Never leave another child responsible for a young child in a swimming pool, bath or spa, no matter how confident you are about the ability of the older child to watch the young child. Children are not capable of such responsibility. It is the responsibility of an adult to watch the child.

  • At outdoor gatherings, designate an adult to be responsible for supervising the kids at the pool. You may wish to have the adult in charge of supervising the children wear a hat or armband so they are easily identified.

Pool Fencing

  • Go to the Swimming pool fencing section of this website to learn more, watch the ‘Protect Your Pool, Protect Your Kids’ video and access the checklist.

  • Regularly check pool fences and gates or arrange an inspection of your swimming pool with your local council.

  • Ensure the pool gate is always closed and never propped or left open.

  • Keep pot plants and other furniture away from the swimming pool fence so that they cannot be used to climb over the pool fence to gain access to the pool.

  • Inflatable pools also require a fence and an approved CPR chart in the pool area. See the Inflatable and Portable Pools section of the website for more information.


  • Learn infant and child Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and take annual refresher courses.

  • Any attempt at CPR is better than no attempt at all.

  • For more information on how to perform CPR, please see our basic life support fact sheets for children less than 12 months and for children over 12 months.

  • Ensure that an approved CPR chart is displayed in the pool area. CPR charts can be obtained from your local council, pool shop or community organisations such as St John Ambulance, the Australian Red Cross or The Royal Life Saving Society.

  • Information on CPR courses can be obtained from:

Water Familiarisation

  • Familiarise your child with water but do not assume that they cannot drown.

  • Swimming lessons and flotation devices are not substitutes for adult supervision.

  • Information on approved swim courses can be obtained from:

Please see our safety fact sheets for more information.


  1. Royal Life Saving Society Australia (RLSSA) . Unpublished Data. Broadway : s.n., 2015.

  2. NSW Ministry of Health. Injury related hospitalisations (unpublished data). Sydney: Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence; 2015.