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Parent/caregiver perceptions and practice of water safety at the beach

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Abstract

Lack of appropriate supervision is a persistent risk factor in most child drowning incidents. The risks to young children associated with swimming at beaches place a premium on close and constant supervision by caregivers. However, little is known about caregiver supervisory practice and perceptions of child water safety at beaches. Adults (N = 769) in charge of children under 10 years of age were surveyed at 18 New Zealand beaches during the summer of 2007 to ascertain caregiver perceptions of their water safety skills, risk of drowning for their child and their supervisory behaviours. Most parents (78%) estimated that they could swim 100 m non-stop in open water, almost one half (48%) had been certified in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and one quarter (24%) had received some rescue/lifesaving training. More than one quarter (29%) failed to provide appropriate supervision for their under 5-year olds at the beach. Almost half (46%) of caregivers did not provide close supervision for their 5-9 year olds. Although there were no significant differences between males and female self-reported supervision, male caregivers were more likely to rate their 5-9 year olds as good swimmers and less likely to estimate a high risk of drowning for that age group. To address shortcomings in caregiver supervision, it is suggested that water safety education initiatives emphasise how to provide close and constant supervision of young children at beaches. Furthermore, a focus on the necessity for caution when estimating risk and ability to cope with open water conditions is recommended.
Parental perceptions of toddler water safety, swimming ability and
swimming lessons
K. MORAN*{and T. STANLEY{
{University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
{WaterSafe Auckland Inc., Auckland, New Zealand
(Received 5 July 2005; in final form 25 August 2005)
The primary objective of the study was to examine parental perceptions on the role of
toddler swimming ability and pre-school swimming lessons in drowning prevention. A
self-administered questionnaire was used to obtain information on toddler water safety
from parents (n ¼882) whose 2 – 4-year-old toddlers were either attending early
childhood centres (n ¼327) or who were enrolled in swim schools (n ¼555). Differences
in attitudes between two groups of parents were measured by frequency, with Mann-
Whitney Utests used to discern significant differences between groups.
More swim school parents believed that: swimming was best taught at 2 years of age or
less (42% vs. 29%); swimming lessons were the best way to prevent toddler drowning
(57% vs. 47%); toddlers could learn to save themselves if they fell into water (43% vs.
33%); and that it was better to develop swimming ability rather than rely on adult
supervision (35% vs. 30%).
Many parents have an overly optimistic view of the role of swimming ability and pre-
school swimming lessons in drowning prevention. This was especially so for parents with
toddlers enrolled in lessons. Swim schools in particular need to counter parental
misconceptions of the protective role of swimming and reiterate the importance of close
adult supervision of toddlers around water.
Keywords:Toddler drowning; Swimming ability; Pre-school swimming lessons; Parental
water safety perceptions
1. Background
In New Zealand, the risk of drowning posed by the
perceptual, cognitive and physical immaturity of early
childhood is exacerbated by high frequency of risk
exposure in an aquatically oriented society with easy access
to water. Between 1993 – 1999, 77 children aged 0 – 4 years
died as a consequence of drowning, an average of 11 deaths
per year and an annual age-specific rate of 4.0 deaths per
100 000 person years, the highest rate of any age group
(Injury Prevention Research Centre 2003). More than one-
half (57%) of the victims drowned in a pool, tank or pond,
and more than two-thirds (68%) of the drowning incidents
occurred in the home and involved males. Whilst the
circumstance of these drownings were similar to those
reported in other developed countries, the drowning rate
for this age group in New Zealand was almost 50% higher
than its nearest neighbour Australia (Langley et al. 2000).
In an attempt to address this social tragedy, some New
Zealand swimming and water safety organizations have
publicly encouraged parents to enrol their young children
in pre-school swimming lessons (New Zealand Swim
Coaches and Teachers Association, Water Safety New
Zealand and Swimming New Zealand 2002, Water Safety
New Zealand 2004). Other organizations, notably the Child
Safety Foundation of New Zealand, have adopted the more
cautionary approach to swimming programmes for infants
and toddlers promoted by the American Academy of
*Corresponding author. Email: k.moran@auckland.ac.nz
International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, Vol. 13, No. 3, September 2006, 139 – 143
International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion
ISSN 1745-7300 print/ISSN 1745-7319 online Ó2006 Taylor & Francis
http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals
DOI: 10.1080/17457300500373572
Pediatrics (1993, 2000). Even though controversy as to the
protective value of toddler swimming ability is not new
(Diamond 1975, Langendorfer 1989), recent debate has
focused mainly on the appropriate age and capacity of
young children to learn to swim and survive (Asher et al.
1995, Blanksby et al. 1995, Parker and Blanksby 1997,
Gladish et al. 2002) and the counter threat of increased risk
exposure through overconfidence and aroused curiosity in
and around water (Erbaugh 1986, Barss 1995, Brenner
et al. 2003). However, the related issue of parental belief in
the protective value of swimming and of swimming lessons
in toddler drowning prevention has not been well
documented. Although many pre-school swim programmes
aimed at the 2 – 4 year age group emphasize aquatic
readiness rather than survival skills (The Canadian Red
Cross Society 1994, Gladish et al. 2002, New South Wales
Water Safety Taskforce 2002, Brenner et al. 2005), little is
known about the public perception of toddler swimming
lessons, which, as the name implies, suggests the acquisition
of a locomotive skill traditionally associated with safety in
water. It was the purpose of this study to examine parental
perceptions of toddler water safety and to compare the
perceptions of parents whose children were enrolled in
lessons with other parents whose children were not.
2. Method
All professional swim schools (n ¼38) listed in the
telephone directory of the Auckland region were invited
to take part in a survey of parents whose toddlers aged
between 2 4 years were enrolled in lessons during the
summer term, 2004. Eighteen swim schools agreed to take
part and, on the first day of lessons, 555 parents completed
a questionnaire while their toddlers were in the pool with
the instructor. A control group of 327 parents whose
toddlers were not enrolled in swimming lessons completed a
similar questionnaire at 23 early childhood centres located
in close proximity to the swim schools. Prior to completion
of the questionnaire, consent to use data gathered in the
study was sought and granted from parents under
assurances of anonymity and confidentiality. The ques-
tionnaire included a combination of forced-choice and
open-ended questions that focused on parental under-
standing of toddler water safety. Data from the completed
questionnaires were entered into EPI Info Version 6 for
statistical analysis using SPSS Version 12 in Windows.
Frequency tables were generated for all questions and
Mann-Whitney Utests were used to determine significant
differences between parent groups.
3. Results
Parents were asked what they thought was the best age to
teach children to swim. Table 1 shows that two-thirds
(n ¼599; 68%) of the 882 respondents thought that
children were best taught at 3 years or less, and more than
one-third thought that 2 years or less (n ¼329; 37%) was
the best age. More parents with toddlers enrolled in
swimming lessons thought that the best age to learn to
swim was 2 years or less (42% vs. 29%) or 3 years (33% vs.
27%). In contrast, more parents whose toddlers were not
enrolled in lessons thought that the best age to learn was 4
years or older (46% vs. 25%).
Parental attitudes towards the protective value of
swimming and toddler swimming lessons were elicited from
responses to statements using a five-point scale ranging
from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Overall, more
than one-quarter (29%) of the 882 participants either
agreed (n ¼147; 17%) or strongly agreed (n ¼107; 12%)
that toddlers drown because they had not learned to
swim. Almost two-thirds (64%) agreed (n ¼347; 39%) or
strongly agreed (n ¼216; 25%) that the earlier children
learned to swim the safer they would be. More than half
(52%) also agreed (n ¼311; 35%) or strongly agreed
(n ¼146; 17%) that swimming lessons were the best way
to prevent toddlers from drowning. Almost all parents
Table 1. Parent estimates of the best age to teach children to swim.
Parents within group Combined total Cumulative total
Best age to learn to swim Parent group n (%) n (%) n (%)
2 years or less Swim school 233 (42.0) 329 (37.3) 329 (37.3)
Early childhood centre 96 (29.4)
3 years Swim school 181 (32.6) 270 (30.6) 599 (67.9)
Early childhood centre 89 (27.2)
4 years Swim school 97 (17.5) 180 (20.4) 779 (88.3)
Early childhood centre 83 (25.4)
5 years Swim school 17 (3.1) 68 (7.7) 847 (96.0)
Early childhood centre 51 (15.6)
46 years of age Swim school 27 (4.8) 35 (4.0) 882 (100.0)
Early childhood centre 8 (2.4)
140 K. Moran and T. Stanley
(80%) disagreed (n ¼401; 46%) or strongly disagreed
(n ¼301; 34%) that toddlers aged between 2 – 4 years were
too young to learn to swim. Nearly one-third (32%) either
agreed (n ¼198; 22%) or strongly agreed (n ¼88; 10%)
that it was better to develop toddler swimming ability than
rely on adult supervision.
Responses from swim school and early childhood centre
parents were dichotomized into ‘agreed/disagreed’ cate-
gories and compared. Mann-Whitney Utests with a
Bonferroni correction were used to establish whether
differences in attitudes between groups were significant.
Table 2 shows that more swim school parents agreed
toddlers drowned because they had not learned to swim,
that the earlier they learned to swim the safer they would be
and that it was better to develop their swim ability rather
than rely on adult supervision, although the differences
between responses from parent groups were not statistically
significant.
However, table 2 also shows that significantly more swim
school parents agreed that swimming lessons were the best
way to prevent toddler drowning and that toddlers could
learn to save themselves if they fell into water. In addition,
significantly more swim school parents disagreed that
toddlers aged between 2 – 4 years were too young to learn
to swim.
No significant differences were found between parent
groups in responses to statements about the importance of
adult supervision of toddler water activity and where
toddlers were most likely to drown. Some of the 882
parents either agreed (n ¼117; 13%) or strongly agreed
(n ¼40; 5%) that, at home, it was not possible to constantly
supervise toddlers around water. More than one-third
(40%) either agreed (n ¼259; 29%) or strongly agreed
(n ¼91; 10%) that neighbourhood creeks were more
dangerous than swimming pools for toddlers and a similar
proportion were not sure (n ¼326; 37%). Almost one-
quarter (24%) either agreed (n ¼143; 16%) or strongly
agreed (n ¼67; 8%) that most toddlers drowned when they
found access to a pool on someone else’s property and
almost half were not sure (n ¼382; 43%).
4. Discussion
The ability of a toddler to swim and the role of toddler
swimming lessons in drowning prevention were held in high
regard by many parents, irrespective of whether their
toddlers were enrolled in swim school lessons or not.
Parents who had enrolled their toddlers in lessons were
more positive than other parents about the value of toddler
swimming ability and swimming lessons in drowning
prevention. More thought that swimming lessons were the
best way to prevent toddler drowning (57% vs. 47%), that
the earlier children learned to swim the safer they would be
(68% vs. 62%) and that toddlers could learn to save
themselves if they fell into water (43% vs. 33%).
Alarmingly, approximately one-third of swim school
parents (35%) and early childhood centre parents (30%)
believed that it was better to develop toddler swimming
ability rather than rely on adult supervision. That any
parents believe enhanced toddler swimming ability is a safer
alternative to adult supervision in drowning prevention is a
cause for concern best addressed through continued
emphasis on the absolute necessity for close adult super-
vision of toddler water activity at all times. Given that
parental belief in the protective value of swimming was
greater among swim school parents, it would be prudent for
swim schools to counter this belief through concurrent
parent education by emphasizing close supervision rather
than swimming proficiency when promoting toddler water
safety.
Table 2. Parent opinions on the value of swimming ability and swimming lessons in toddler drowning prevention.
Agree Disagree Not sure
Statements n%n%n% Mann-Whitney U
Toddlers drown because they
haven’t learned to swim
Swim school 168 31.5 315 58.9 51 9.6 80595.0 (p¼0.455)
Other parents 86 27.7 170 54.7 31 10.0
The earlier children learn to
swim, the safer they will be
Swim school 367 68.0 87 16.1 86 15.9 77059.0 (p ¼0.013)
Other parents 196 62.0 66 20.9 54 17.1
Swimming lessons are the best way
to prevent toddlers from drowning
Swim school 310 57.1 163 30.0 70 12.9 74314.5* (p¼0.001)
Other parents 147 46.8 116 36.9 51 16.2
Toddlers between 2 – 4 years of age
are too young to learn to swim
Swim school 34 6.2 479 87.7 33 6.0 66889.5* (p ¼0.000)
Other parents 46 14.6 223 70.5 47 14.9
Better to develop swimming ability
than rely on adult supervision
Swim school 192 35.4 300 55.3 50 9.2 78286.0 (p¼0.043)
Other parents 94 30.0 188 59.9 32 10.2
Toddlers can learn to save
themselves if they fall into water
Swim school 231 42.7 215 39.6 96 17.7 75264.0* (p¼0.001)
Other parents 106 33.3 159 50.0 53 16.7
*p 50.008 with Bonferroni correction.
Parental water safety perceptions 141
Another indicator of the strong parental belief in the
value of early swimming instruction was the relatively
young age at which most parents thought it best to start
swimming instruction. Most parents (n ¼702; 80%) dis-
agreed that toddlers aged between 2 – 4 years were too
young to learn to swim, with swim school parents more
likely to disagree than other parents (88% vs. 71%). Swim
school parents were also more likely to favour an early start
to swim instruction with four in ten swim school parents
believing that 2 years or less was the best age (42% vs.
29%). This suggests that some parents, especially those
whose toddlers take part in pre-school swimming lessons,
have an unrealistic expectation of how early swimming
competency and water safety can be taught. Such beliefs are
contrary to the findings of previous studies that suggest
lessons are best started after the age of 4 years (Blanksby
et al. 1995, Parker and Blanksby 1997). In spite of recent
attempts by many organizations to de-emphasize the
swimming and survival aspects of pre-school lessons, this
study shows that such expectations persist among parents
and need to be countered by concurrent parent education at
the time of the toddler water-based instruction. An
appropriate starting point for this education would be for
those involved with aquatic education programmes to stop
using the term ‘swimming’ in association with water-based
lessons for this age group.
Many parents, irrespective of whether their children
were enrolled in lessons or not, were unsure or ill-
informed about the circumstances surrounding most
toddler drownings. It is of concern that almost one-fifth
(n ¼157; 18%) of parents believed that constant super-
vision was not possible around the home since lapses in
supervision have been clearly identified as the primary
cause of toddler drowning (Langley and Smeijers 1997,
American Academy of Pediatrics 2000, Department of
Trade and Industry 2001, Centres for Disease Control
and Prevention 2004). One-quarter (n ¼210; 24%) of all
parents wrongly believed that toddlers usually drowned
in someone else’s pool and almost half (n ¼382; 43%)
were not sure whether this was the case. In addition, four
in ten parents (n ¼350; 40%) erroneously believed that
neighbourhood creeks posed a greater danger to toddlers
than domestic swimming pools and more than one-third
(n ¼326, 38.0%) were not sure. This lack of awareness of
the significance of home swimming pools in familiar
surroundings as the prime site of toddler drowning
suggests that, in spite of extensive water safety promo-
tion, many parents are poorly informed about where
toddlers are at greatest risk of drowning. Informing
parents about the circumstances that typify toddler
drowning would be a valuable adjunct not only to
parents whose children are enrolled in water-based
lessons, but also to all parents via community-based
safety education programmes.
5. Conclusion
The results of this study suggest that many parents,
irrespective of whether or not their children were enrolled
in swimming lessons, have a limited understanding of the
nature of toddler water safety. Many parents, especially
those whose children were enrolled in lessons, have an
overly optimistic view of the protective role of swimming
ability in toddler drowning prevention. Many parents,
again especially those involved in pre-school swimming
lessons, believed that children are best taught to swim at
2 years of age or less, and that the earlier they learn to swim
the safer they will be. Such assumptions place unrealistic
demands on those engaged in toddler water-based instruc-
tion and, more importantly, unrealistic expectations from
parents about the safety benefits of pre-school lessons.
Even though many responsible organizations promote
the notion of water confidence or aquatic readiness in their
pre-school programmes and de-emphasize the notion of
‘watersafe’, ‘waterproof’ or ‘drownproof’ toddlers, results
of this study suggest that many parents still believe that, on
entry into the programme at least, their child’s water safety
is enhanced through participation in pre-school lessons.
It is incumbent on all swim schools to de-emphasize the
safety aspect of toddler swimming lessons in order to dispel
any parental perception of enhanced water safety as a
consequence of improved swimming proficiency in this age
group. Alternative promotion of the value of water
familiarization lessons that focused on the enjoyment of a
unique environment, exploration of movement in a
different medium, enhancement of physical motor skills
and the opportunity to develop social skills would not
detract from the inherent value of the lessons, yet still allow
a wonderful opportunity to promote water safety aware-
ness for toddler and parent alike.
A pilot study is currently underway to develop and
implement a toddler – parent water safety education pro-
gramme that addresses many of the misconceptions
highlighted in this initial study. The programme is being
conducted in conjunction with parents whose toddlers
attend two Auckland swim schools and evaluation of its
effectiveness in changing parental misconceptions of
toddler water safety will be the focus of a future study. In
addition to this, further research is also required to
ascertain how swim school instructors perceive their role,
and that of swimming lessons and swimming ability, in the
promotion of water safety for this vulnerable age group.
Acknowledgments
The authors would like to acknowledge the funding
support of the Accident Compensation Corporation
(ACC), New Zealand and WaterSafe Auckland Incorpo-
rated (WAI), and the Injury Prevention Research Centre
142 K. Moran and T. Stanley
(IPRC), University of Auckland, for assistance in data
collection, data input and analysis.
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Parental water safety perceptions 143
... In the context of movement in water, however, the importance of an accurate parental estimate increases because parental perceptions of their children's aquatic skills in, on and around water influence the level of supervision they deem to be necessary for children's safe engagement in various aquatic activities (Matthews & Franklin, 2018;Morrongiello et al., 2014). Moreover, research has shown that drownings among children can be largely attributed to insufficient parental supervision (Moran, 2009;Morrongiello et al., 2014). Despite the importance of accurate self-perception and parent-perception of a child's aquatic skills, only limited research to date has focused on the relationship, and more importantly, the degree of (dis)agreement between these perceptions and children's actual aquatic skill levels (e.g., Costa et al., 2020;De Pasquale et al., 2020). ...
... This latter author suggested that parents made an 'undocumented assumption' about their children's actual aquatic skillfulness. Similarly, other studies have reported that parents often underestimate the degree of supervision that children need in the context of aquatic recreation (Moran, 2009;Stanley & Moran, 2017). Hence, as also stated earlier by De Pasquale et al. (2020), it is important to educate parents on how to correctly assess their children's actual aquatic skill level (Morrongiello et al., 2013;Stanley & Moran, 2017). ...
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As children’s actual aquatic skills are important for the prevention of drowning as well as their engagement in lifelong aquatic physical activity, researchers and practitioners should be able to assess this vital concept accurately and reliably. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the inter-rater and intra-rater reliability of the Actual Aquatic Skills Test (AAST), consisting of 17 different test items for the assessment of young children’s motor competence in the water. Six raters received a training and evaluation session on scoring the AAST, after which five of them assessed four test videos (of various children (n = 38) performing the test items) twice, with one to two weeks in between (i.e., test and re-test). Inter-rater and intra-rater reliability were determined per test video and for the different AAST test items across videos using Gwet’s Agreement Coefficient 2 (Gwet’s AC2). The Gwet’s AC2 for inter-rater reliability at the test varied from 0.414 to 1.000, indicating a moderate to perfect agreement between raters. For intra-rater reliability, it ranged from 0.628 to 1.000, demonstrating a good to perfect agreement between test and re-test scoring. In conclusion, the AAST is a promising tool to reliably assess young children’s actual aquatic skills in an indoor swimming pool.
... In the context of movement in water, however, the importance of an accurate parental estimate increases because parental perceptions of their children's aquatic skills in, on and around water influence the level of supervision they deem to be necessary for children's safe engagement in various aquatic activities (Matthews & Franklin, 2018;Morrongiello et al., 2014). Moreover, research has shown that drownings among children can be largely attributed to insufficient parental supervision (Moran, 2009;Morrongiello et al., 2014). Despite the importance of accurate self-perception and parent-perception of a child's aquatic skills, only limited research to date has focused on the relationship, and more importantly, the degree of (dis)agreement between these perceptions and children's actual aquatic skill levels (e.g., Costa et al., 2020;De Pasquale et al., 2020). ...
... This latter author suggested that parents made an 'undocumented assumption' about their children's actual aquatic skillfulness. Similarly, other studies have reported that parents often underestimate the degree of supervision that children need in the context of aquatic recreation (Moran, 2009;Stanley & Moran, 2017). Hence, as also stated earlier by De Pasquale et al. (2020), it is important to educate parents on how to correctly assess their children's actual aquatic skill level (Morrongiello et al., 2013;Stanley & Moran, 2017). ...
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... Current notions of water safety are largely described as cautious behaviours on, in or around the water (Gulliver & Begg, 2005); water safety knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours/practices (Moran, 2003(Moran, , 2006(Moran, , 2007(Moran, , 2008(Moran, , 2009McCool et al., 2009;Moran & Willcox, 2010); swimming competency and ability Maynard, 2013;Stallman et al., 2008); water safety messages ; risky behaviours/perceptions and drowning risk (McCool et al., 2009;Moran, 2010Moran, , 2011; safe assistance and lifeguard rescue/self-rescue methods; (Moran, 2008;Moran & Stanley, 2013;Franklin & Pearn, 2011;Moran & Webber, 2014); active adult supervision (Moran, 2009) and; aquatic readiness and water competence (Quan et al., 2015;Langendorfer, 2015;Stallman et al., 2017;Kjendlie et al., 2010). ...
... Current notions of water safety are largely described as cautious behaviours on, in or around the water (Gulliver & Begg, 2005); water safety knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours/practices (Moran, 2003(Moran, , 2006(Moran, , 2007(Moran, , 2008(Moran, , 2009McCool et al., 2009;Moran & Willcox, 2010); swimming competency and ability Maynard, 2013;Stallman et al., 2008); water safety messages ; risky behaviours/perceptions and drowning risk (McCool et al., 2009;Moran, 2010Moran, , 2011; safe assistance and lifeguard rescue/self-rescue methods; (Moran, 2008;Moran & Stanley, 2013;Franklin & Pearn, 2011;Moran & Webber, 2014); active adult supervision (Moran, 2009) and; aquatic readiness and water competence (Quan et al., 2015;Langendorfer, 2015;Stallman et al., 2017;Kjendlie et al., 2010). ...
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Māori (the indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, New Zealand) are intimately connected to wai (i.e., water) yet are overrepresented in New Zealand’s drowning statistics each year. On average Māori account for 20-24% of all preventable and non-preventable drowning fatalities, despite comprising only 15 percent of New Zealand’s population. Drowning remains a significant issue posing a threat to whānau (i.e., families) through premature death being imminent and whakapapa (i.e., genealogy) being interrupted. There is limited research that has examined Māori and indigenous understandings of water safety within the literature and limited studies that have investigated the issue of Māori drowning from a distinctly Māori or indigenous approach. This paper proposes a theory of Māori water safety depicted as the Wai Puna model and draws on three core concepts pertinent to a Māori worldview: whakapapa, mātauranga (i.e., Māori knowledge and ways of knowing) and tikanga (i.e., customs, practices). Wai Puna provides the foundation for conceptualising Māori water safety in a New Zealand context and a way forward for other indigenous communities around the world to redefine water safety and drowning prevention from their distinct worldviews that reflect their unique beliefs and attitudes to water and thus to water safety.
... The recommended distance for watching children play in water aged 5 and younger is within arm's reach (American Red Cross, 2022). The supervision from beach distance is also too far to prevent other distractions from getting in the way of having a close watch on their children at all times (Moran, 2009). Educational materials need to emphasize quality supervisory practices, such as calling out dangerous behavior, as well as being close by. ...
Article
This outreach project was made to address the issue of too many children drowning at pools due to a lack of water safety education. The dissemination of pool safety education is imperative to reduce accidental injuries and drownings. The goal of the Safety Splash video and supplemental materials is to provide pool safety education for children and adults. By encouraging conversations between children and adults before going to the pool, there can be an intervention that reduces the risk of injury and drowning once they arrive. Through research, I compiled information to support the effectiveness of a combination video, pamphlet, and activity sheet program. This was grounded in health communication design, which informed the script and shot list of the video. Safety Splash teaches children and adults how to approach playing around water and provides explanations for these guidelines. It outlines common behaviors at the pool which should be avoided and outlines common rules that are standard practice at many pools. This video and program use simple language to appeal to children and a wider audience. This resource is free and accessible via the internet so as to reach as wide an audience as possible.
... Despite the importance of supervision, it is common for parents of toddlers to not maintain constant supervision of children around bodies of water. 6 This is a hazardous practice since a lack of supervision is one of the main risk factors associated with drowning. 7 A study of fatal child drownings in Australia showed that a lack of supervision was a contributing factor in 94% of the cases where the supervision information for the incident was known. ...
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Background: In the U.S., drowning is a leading cause of death for toddlers. One important layer of protection against submersion injuries and fatalities is parent or caregiver supervision. The aims of this study are to explore current supervisory behavior of caregivers, determine how caregivers view common supervision distractions, like cell phones and grilling, and identify what factors shape the quality of supervision that is given when swimming with their toddler at a swimming pool. Methods: This cross-sectional study used the MTurk online platform to survey 650 caregivers of toddlers (1-4 yrs old) about their supervision behavior, their drowning knowledge, their perceptions of arm’s reach supervision, the water competency of their toddler, and other background information. Regression analysis was used to identify factors that predicted reported supervision behavior. Results: The average supervision behavior score for caregivers indicated an attitude between neutral and disagreement with allowing distractions for themselves while supervising their toddler in a swimming pool. High water safety knowledge and positive perceptions of arm’s reach supervision were the biggest predictors of attentive supervision behavior. Having a home pool, higher education level, and believing their toddler had greater water competency were predictive of less attentive supervision behavior. Conclusion: Results suggest that supervision behavior while toddlers are in a swimming pool may be inadequate. Low water safety knowledge and attitudes about what constitutes quality supervision are related to pool supervision behavior and changing these may reduce drowning risk. Caregivers should be encouraged to not reduce supervision as their toddlers gain water competency and if they have a home pool.
... For example, American adults have been found to spend on average 4 h and 46 min a day watching television, and 3 h and 9 min using an app or the internet on a smartphone or tablet computer (The Nielson Company 2018). Research indicates that parents also commonly spend time on their devices while supervising children (Moran 2009). For example, an observational study of 50 parents/carers caring for children aged 5 years and younger in playgrounds found that the majority (76%) used their mobile device, with usage time extending to 17 min of the 20 min observation period (Mangan, Leavy, and Jancey 2018). ...
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Mobile touch screen devices (smartphones and tablet computers) have become an integral part of many parents’ and children’s lives, with this interaction linked to physical, mental and social outcomes. Despite the known importance of parent-child attachment, evidence on the association between device use and attachment was yet to be reviewed. Following protocol pre-registration, databases were searched, papers screened, and methodological quality assessed. Three papers met the inclusion criteria, and reported some negative associations between duration of parent/child smartphone use and attachment outcomes. A narrative synthesis on two groups of related papers found child time using any screen technology (including television viewing), and child “problematic” internet, mobile phone, gaming and social media use, was negatively associated with attachment outcomes. Currently there is limited direct evidence on any association between time parents or children spend using these devices and parent-child attachment to support time guidelines for families and professionals working with families. Practitioner Summary: Many parents and children regularly spend time using smartphones and tablet computers. This systematic review found limited evidence evaluating associations between child/adolescent or parent time using devices and parent-child attachment. Until quality evidence exists, practitioners should be alert to potential impacts of device use on family relationships and child outcomes.
... Lack of appropriate supervision is a persistent risk factor in most drowning incidents on beaches that involve children and is always associated with a high risk of drowning when swimming. However, little is known about parent or child-carer supervisory practice and their perceptions of swimming safety at beaches [57]. We therefore expect to find that adults with children under their care will show higher levels of acceptance and will recognize the perceived benefits of the use of rescue drones on the beach. ...
Article
The use of rescue drones is expected to increase in forthcoming years. However, the success of their implementation through different applications will depend on public acceptance. Studies to date have analyzed public support for the use of drones with various applications, although public acceptance of drones in specific contexts remains to be explored. In particular, the use of drones for beach rescues has proven beneficial in reducing response times, thus helping to save lives. In this study, we analyze the public acceptance of lifesaving drones and their associated variables. Data collected from a survey of beach users (N = 3363) for this study are used to measure public acceptance of rescue drones. We found that public acceptance of rescue drones is moderate, with approximately half of all participants accepting their use. In terms of influencing variables, we found that the factors most associated with their use are 'perceived benefits' and 'perceived risks'. We also found that the participants from beaches without lifeguard services were more likely to accept the use of rescue drones. These results initiated a discussion on the variables that are associated with the public acceptance in the specific context of lifesaving. In addition, based on the results of this study, we propose implementation plans for rescue drones that might also include public information campaigns on their benefits for beach users.
Article
Contact with natural environments is associated with good health and well-being. Although childhood nature experiences may be important in the development of an individual's relationship with nature and subsequent well-being, previous studies have tended to focus on ‘nature’ in general, and the mechanisms by which childhood experiences influence well-being in adulthood remain insufficiently studied. Drawing on cross-sectional survey data from an 18-country sample (N = 15,743) the current work extended previous research by examining: a) blue spaces (coasts, rivers, lakes, etc.) in particular; b) associations between adults' recalled childhood exposure to blue spaces, frequency of recent visits to green and blues spaces, and adult subjective well-being; c) the role of childhood exposure to blue spaces on intrinsic motivations to spend time in nature; and d) the consistency of these relationships across different countries. Tests of a model where childhood exposure to blue spaces was linked to adult subjective well-being serially through intrinsic motivation and then recent blue and green space visits exhibited a good fit, a pattern largely consistent across all 18 countries. However, an alternative model where recent visits predicted intrinsic motivation also demonstrated good fit, indicating that these processes may be iterative. Building familiarity with and confidence in and around blue spaces in childhood may stimulate a joy of, and greater propensity to spend recreational time in, nature in adulthood, with positive consequences for adult subjective well-being.
Article
Do lifeguards monitor events according to the level of danger they pose to the patron? This study examined this question by displaying 40 min of video of natural swimming activity to three lifeguards while an eye-tracker recorded their eye position. In a separate session, those same lifeguards viewed 100 short video clips of some of the incidents that had been presented earlier and they were asked to provide a severity rating (0-7) for each one. The proportion of time that an event was monitored was calculated, and was not consistently predicted by incident severity, physical salience, or incident duration, but by the number of swimmers in the scene. Although this study had an extremely small number of lifeguards and should be treated as exploratory, it suggests that lifeguards may have trouble monitoring incidents they deem severe when they are presented in the context of a busy aquatic scene. KEYWORDS: drowning, lifeguarding, salience, severity, surveillance
Article
Drowning is a global public health issue. Aims were to assess: (a) face validity of the “Pictorial Scale of Perceived Water Competence (PSPWC),” (b) the association between child and parent perception of child swimming competence and (c) factors associated with perception of child swimming competence. Child‐parent dyads and swim instructors were recruited for a mixed method study. Children aged 4‐8 years (n = 51) reported on: familiarity, progressions and their own swim competence in 17 swimming situations. Parents (n = 51) reported on child competence and swimming experience. Swim instructors (n = 15) were interviewed. Spearman's rank correlation was used to assess whether child and parent swim perception were associated. The Mann‐Whitney U test, Wilcoxon signed‐rank test or Kruskal‐Wallis test were used to assess which factors were associated with child and/or parent report. Children reported high familiarity of scenarios and could sequence items. Swim instructors concluded the PSPWC depicted swim skills accurately. There was no association between child and parent perception of children's swimming ability. Swimming level was positively associated with child perception but not parent proxy report. Swimming lesson experience, child sex, country of birth and disadvantage were not associated with child perception or parent proxy report. Older children perceived higher swimming competence but parent report was not associated with child age. Children have a better understanding of their swim competence than their parents do, suggesting parent education is needed. The PSPWC could be used by teachers (both swimming and classroom) to inform parents how their child estimates their swim competence. If use of this tool was incorporated into education practice this could assist in creating awareness, which can be the start of advocacy towards the creation of policy to assist in the provision of accessible swim education for all Australian children.
Article
Aquatic experiences including structured instructional programs for young children have become extremely popular over the past two decades despite opposition and controversy. Surprisingly, this popularity and controversy have not given rise to extensive or sustained research efforts by exercise scientists or aquatic professionals. Most information available for assessing risks and benefits of aquatic experiences for young children must be gleaned from ancillary sources in medical and educational literature. This paper reviews important issues and questions in the medical, developmental, and pedagogical areas of early childhood aquatics. The need for basic and applied research efforts by teams of exercise scientists from physiologic, psychologic, medical, and aquatic backgrounds is apparent.
Article
Infant and toddler aquatic programs provide an opportunity to introduce young children to the joy and risks of being in or around water. Generally, children are not developmentally ready for swimming lessons until after their fourth birthday. Aquatic programs for infants and toddlers have not been shown to decrease the risk of drowning, and parents should not feel secure that their child is safe in water or safe from drowning after participating in such programs. Young children should receive constant, close supervision by an adult while in and around water.
Article
Drowning is a leading cause of injury-related death in children. In 2000, more than 1400 US children younger than 20 years drowned. A number of strategies are available to prevent these tragedies. Pediatricians play an important role in prevention of drownings as educators and advocates.
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The risk of drowning associated with aquatic recreation is the consequence of many underlying water safety influences that operate at intrapersonal, interpersonal and community levels. A nationwide survey was completed by New Zealand youth (n=2202, 15–19 year olds) to obtain comprehensive data on what young people know, think and do about their safety during aquatic recreation. Almost all respondents had taken part in some swimming (98%) in the previous year. Risk of drowning was exacerbated among many students because they had poor safety skills and knowledge, held unsound attitudes, and often reported risky behaviours. For example, many students estimated that they could not swim more than 100 m (54%), had swum outside surf patrol flags (61%) or never wore lifejackets (19%) during aquatic recreation. Taken separately, any of these dispositions is capable of heightening drowning risk; taken collectively they offer strong explanation as to why some youth are at greater risk of drowning than others. When analysed by gender, a lack of male water safety knowledge, a prevalence of unsafe attitudes, and at-risk behaviours was consistent and pronounced.
Article
Objective: To describe the epidemiology of drowning in New Zealand for the period 1980–94.Methods: Drowning-related incidents were identified by linking New Zealand Health Information Service and Water Safety New Zealand databasesResults: 2,606 drowning-related incidents were identified. In three-quarters of the incidents, drowning was listed as the immediate cause of death. The majority of drownings were unintentional (85%), involved males (76%), and 0–4 and 15–24 year age groups had the highest rates. Boating was the leading cause of unintentional drowning (28%) followed by swimming and other water sports (19%), motor vehicle drownings (13%) and falls or slips (12%).Conclusions and implications: Although there has been a significant decline in drownings, New Zealand compares poorly internationally. In particular, our unintentional drowning rate is twice that of Australia. For New Zealand to continue to make substantial progress in addressing its overall drowning rate, we need to continue and strengthen our efforts in priority areas, in particular those due to motor vehicle crashes and boating and among preschoolers, adolescents and young adults. Motor vehicle traffic crashes warrant closer attention than has been the case to date.