IT only took a minute, but the pain will last a lifetime for Kylie Parker.
Her three-year-old son Jake drowned in the family’s backyard swimming pool at their Geraldton home in February last year.
Jake accessed their home pool through a gate that had been accidentally wedged open by a toy.
“By the time I realised that the gate wasn’t closed, it was too late…” Kylie says.
Since the heart-breaking tragedy Kylie has become an ambassador for drowning prevention, and now assists with Royal Life Saving child safety classes, teaching parents how to keep their children safe around water, and basic first aid and CPR skills.
With summer on our doorstep, Kylie is helping Royal Life Saving WA with their “Keep Watch” toddler drowning prevention campaign.
“I’m speaking out to raise awareness of just how quickly and quietly drowning can happen and I urge parents to take supervision and safety of toddlers around water seriously,” she says.
“There are no words that can ever describe how much I love and miss my son on a daily basis.
“If I can save just one child, my son’s death won’t have been for nothing.”
For the first time since Royal Life Saving records began in the 1980s, there has been no toddler drowning deaths recorded in 2019/20.
However parents shouldn’t be complacent as every year about 40 WA toddlers are admitted to hospital after a non-fatal drowning incident, many of whom sustain lifelong brain injuries.
During the past 18 years, 507 toddlers under five years of age drowned, and 41 per cent were one-year olds.
Royal Life Saving WA’s Laura Nimmo says the majority of toddler deaths occur in backyard swimming pools during the summer months.
“The risk of drowning triples as soon as a child starts to crawl, peaking shortly after their first birthday, just as they start to become more mobile,” she says.
“At this age, kids are curious and unpredictable. They can’t help themselves.
“They just are who they are while they’re learning about the world, and it’s what we love most about them.
“But it’s also the reason parents need to keep constant watch.
“This campaign reminds parents that ‘Kids can’t help themselves around water, so you need to’.”
Ms Nimmo is asking all parents to “Keep Watch” around water, but also prepare for the unexpected.
“In the lead up to summer parents should check their pool fence and gate, empty out paddle pools, buckets and baths and update their CPR skills so they know what to do in an emergency.”
For more information about Royal Life Saving’s Keep Watch campaign, go to royallifesavingwa.com.au