The NSW Ambulance Service receives hundreds of calls each year to treat people involved in water accidents. In 2006/07, 35 infants and toddlers under the age of five died as a result of drowning.

Last updated: 26 February 2019

Water safety is important

The importance of beach and water safety can not be underestimated. In 2006/07, 277 people lost their lives as a result of a drowning.

The NSW Ambulance Service receives hundreds of calls each year to treat people involved in water accidents. In 2006/07, 35 children aged under 5 died as a result of drowning.

As thousands of children across NSW prepare to take a swim in the pool or head for the beach this summer, NSW Health issues a warning to parents and carers to make sure this favourite pastime doesn't end in tragedy.

High risk areas

Of all reported drownings, rivers, oceans and harbour locations claimed the most lives, with 39 deaths recorded.

In the 0-5 year age group, 35 children drowned. Common locations were swimming pools, dams, lakes or lagoons, and bathtubs. Children aged less than five years are the highest risk group for drowning.

When near any water this summer the message is clear - parents and carers should always be present to supervise children.

What can you do?

Provide adult su​pervision

In many of the child drowning deaths last year a combination of easy access to water and momentary lapses of adult supervision, or entrusting supervision to older children, was a feature.

The beach or backyard pool are a virtual summer institution for Australians but they are places that need to be monitored carefully - particularly when children are around.

Adults cannot be too vigilant in their supervision of children around water and indeed, many parents and carers will also need to consider safety steps for themselves when around water.

Swimming p​ool fences

An important factor is appropriate safety fencing for pools. All private backyard pools should be fenced independently from the house and the gate should be fitted with a self-closing self-latching device.


Sadly, adults also fall prey to drowning - particularly in unfamiliar or challenging environments. No matter how experienced a swimmer you consider yourself, adults swimming at the beach should make sure they swim between the flags.

Swimming after drinking alcohol is another safety concern for adults. Water and alcohol don't mix - so, if you've been drinking alcohol - stay out of the water. Even confident swimmers shouldn't venture in the water if they are under the effects of alcohol.

Water can be a great source of exercise, relaxation and fun but it is also to be treated with caution as holidays can turn tragic if safety is forgotten.

Related links

Wat​er Safety NSW

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