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Water hazards

water hazards

Drowning and water accidents that cause serious injuries are tragedies everyone wants to avoid. It is important to be aware of water hazards and steps you can take to prevent drowning.

On this page:

Water containers around the home

Products around the home that contain water can create a drowning hazard. Children have drowned in containers carrying very small amounts of water, including:

  • buckets
  • eskies
  • post holes
  • baths
  • fish ponds
  • washing machines.

Children love exploring their world and many love water, especially when it’s hot.

To avoid accidental drowning of young children:

  • never leave containers of water unattended in places that very small children can reach
  • always place secure covers that children cannot open or crawl under over hot tubs and spas
  • if you have or are about to install portable water storage units, make sure yours are fitted with locking devices and come with instructions to secure the lid with a screw or tek-screw.

Portable swimming pools

To avoid drowning, it is crucial to always:

  • watch children closely when they are using portable swimming pools
  • sit in the water with very young children and hold on to them
  • use a secure cover that children cannot crawl under and/or appropriate barriers if you wish to leave the pool up and full of water
  • empty, dismantle and store the portable pool out of reach of children when it is not in use.

Permanent swimming pools

Permanent in-ground or above-ground pools must have a fence with gates that have child-resistant locks.

Public swimming pools

Always keep an eye on children swimming at public pools. Parents and carers are responsible for the safety of children at these centres and should not leave children unsupervised.

Children have drowned at public pools after:

  • jumping into water that is too deep
  • becoming unconscious in water because they have knocked their heads on the side or bottom of the pool.

To avoid accidents:

  • ensure children who can't swim don't go out of their depth
  • stop children from playing any dangerous games that could cause them to fall on the edge or bottom of the pool and sustain injuries
  • always get into the water with toddlers, keep them at arms' length and watch them closely.

Open water

To prevent drowning and other injuries when visiting the sea, rivers, estuaries and lakes, it is crucial to:

  • always swim between the flags at patrolled beaches
  • always obey signs that tell you not to swim in certain areas
  • check the depth of the water before diving
  • avoid walking on slippery rocks or banks that could cause you to fall into dangerous water or down steep banks or cliffs
  • stay out of any open water that could be dangerous
  • never take your eyes off children who are swimming in open water.

Water safety skills

  • swimming lessons are available across Australia for adults and children
  • knowing how to swim can give adults and children confidence in water and enable them to swim out of some difficult situations
  • even if you can swim, it is important to stay out of dangerous water
  • surf-lifesaving clubs across Australia provide training in lifesaving skills and qualifications that are vital for people involved in rescuing swimmers in trouble.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

Learning skills in CPR is an important step that may help you revive a person rescued from water.


  • 302 people drowned in Australia from 2008 to 2009. This is 41 deaths more than in the previous year and 25 more than the average over the past five years.
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