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Water risks in the spotlight as summer rolls on

Lily Young with Gold Coast Health’s Dr Susan Moloney.
Lily Young with Gold Coast Health’s Dr Susan Moloney.

The family of a little girl who had a near drowning in a residential swimming pool has joined Gold Coast Health in urging for vigilance around water this summer.

Gold Coast University Hospital Director of Paediatrics Dr Sue Moloney said it comes as a growing number of children are being admitted to hospital as a result of immersions.

“The figures are clear - we are looking at a year-on-year increase, all of which are preventable,” Dr Moloney said.

“Our data analysis indicates we are on track to surpass last financial year’s ED paediatric presentations for immersions of 49, which is obviously not an outcome we’d like to see.

“It’s important to note that of these presentations, a large portion are being admitted to hospital, which means they are significant incidents.”

Dr Moloney said while it wouldn’t be summer without time by the water, the hazards could not be underestimated, with at least one death per year in Gold Coast emergency departments (EDs).

“Sadly five children under the age of 17 have died in our local EDs as a result of drowning since mid- 2010,” she said.

“Water is one of the main draw-cards for holiday makers but it’s a harsh reality that we have had tragic cases where visitors have left the city without their child after losing them to drowning.

“We want people to enjoy our water lifestyle but be it at the beach, backyard pool, local lake or canal, the risks and need for vigilance remain the same.”

Dr Moloney said it was vital that all adults supervising children in water have resuscitation skills.

“It is usually a member of the family or a friend who are first on the scene when an immersion occurs. The first minutes are important and these skills can save lives,” she said.

Gold Coast mum Gemma Young has bravely shared her seven-year-old daughter’s near-drowning experience last month to highlight just how quickly immersions can happen.

“Many people don’t realise that drowning can be silent and quick,” Ms Young said.

“Children in difficulty can’t always wave or call out and they can silently slip unnoticed to the bottom, even in a backyard pool with lots of other kids.

“Having your child admitted to ICU is obviously highly traumatic for any parent. As frightening as what happened to Lily was, we are happy to be able to help spread the message that there’s no such thing as being too careful.”
For tips on how best to supervise children around water, go to

Last updated 20 Dec 2016