Lifejackets are seatbelts on water

Katherine Plint, from Hannah's Foundation, is working tirelessly to protect children from drowning after losing her toddler Hannah in the family's backyard pool.
Katherine Plint, from Hannah's Foundation, is working tirelessly to protect children from drowning after losing her toddler Hannah in the family's backyard pool. Rae Wilson

A MUM dedicated to drowning prevention believes alcohol companies should place warnings on their drinks to promote that drinking while engaged in water activities is life threatening.

Katherine Plint, who began Hannah's Foundation when her two-year-old daughter drowned in her backyard pool at Laidley, also said people needed to start thinking of lifejackets as seatbelts on the water, with more drowning deaths in inland waterways than at the beach.

In responding to the 2012 Royal Life Saving Australia's national drowning report, Mrs Plint said the report was a tragedy and she knew the personal losses of the 92 families the foundation helped in the past financial year.

The RLS drowning report outlined age and locations 284 people drowned in Australian waterways in the year ending June 30, 2012, and found there was just a 1% reduction, three deaths, on the five-year average.

"Water safety in this country needs to harden up and get tough. If you want results you need to tell the truth about the real reasons how people drown, the simplicity of tragedy and how quick it is and the poor decisions of most adults," Mrs Plint said.

"Truly, you speak to people in the street and the main concepts are CPR saves your life, if you swim you won't drown and if you swim you don't need a life jacket.

"Worst of all, and I read it all the time in baby parents forums, is that if your baby is doing lessons that you don't need to supervise or mums will leave toddlers in the bath with older children.

"There has been too much focus on swimming. It is not about swimming and how well you can or can't.

"It's about not drowning and that education should be focus about making sure we prevent these drowning from occurring."
The RLS report found more drowning deaths occur in rivers and lakes than at the beach in Australia and about 60% of drowning deaths occur outside major cities.

The number of children, under five years of age, drowning in bathtubs has jumped by 75% on the five-year average.

Mrs Plint said there was no notation in the report on the number of pool deaths in Queensland which she believed had "dramatically reduced" thanks to new laws and awareness campaigns.

The Queensland Child Protection 2012 Volunteer of the Year for 2012 said there were other large target groups but no budget to promote much-needed drowning prevention messages.

"You don't see water safety campaigns on televisions discussing drowning all we see is learn to swim lessons and sadly swimmers drown," she said.

"Of direct concern is bath drownings and Hannah's Foundation released these concerns earlier in the year and sadly with those warnings no media or attention other than social networking was achieved.

"We need to see messages of drowning prevention on prime time TV, on the radio, in the local store in posters everywhere we go. 

"While we have the campaigns and we have the ideas we just don't have the national budget to fund them and sadly lives are being lost.

"We call on the Federal and State Governments to all get behind drowning prevention and get behind National Day for Drowning Prevention and Awareness on October 4."  

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