NAC joins Keep Watch program to boost kids' safety

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Children Community Familes Health & Wellness Law & Safety Lifestyle Noosa Council

Luke and Beth McKenzie join their kids in the water at the NAC.

Noosa Aquatic Centre (the NAC) will adopt the Royal Life Saving Society's Keep Watch program from December 1.

It means a few changes, says NAC Coordinator Stephen James, to ensure kids are as safe as possible in the water.

Kids aged five and under must be accompanied in the water by a parent or carer, while a parent or carer must actively supervise kids aged six to ten.

The Keep Watch program is best practice for the industry and aquatic centres around the country are adopting it in order to maximise kids' safety.

"Lifeguards are not babysitters and they simply cannot supervise and respond to every patron's needs simultaneously, which is why parental supervision is critical," Mr James said.

"Children can get into strife in the water at any time and can drown in as little as 20 seconds – less time than it takes to type a text message! With phone use from parents at the NAC on the rise we're imploring parents to watch their child, not their phone."

Royal Life Saving figures show 34 people drowned in public pools in Australia during a recent nine-year period. Almost half of these were children under 10. In 70% of these child drownings, the main factor was a lack of direct supervision.

"If parents had been supervising their children more intently in many of the cases where young children have drowned in public pools then those children may still be alive today."

Mr James said patrons' response to the planned changes had generally been positive.

Luke and Beth McKenzie, who regularly take their kids to the NAC, said being in the water with them was not only important for their safety, it was good for the whole family.

"It's a nice family bonding time and a chance to help develop their love of the water," Beth said.

"Apart from being a responsible parent, I think it is a fun time to interact with your kids, especially at this age," Luke added. "They are constantly learning and I think it's a fun time of their development to be involved with and watch them progress as swimmers."

The NAC has revised its entry fees to align with the changes. From December 1, children aged five and under will no longer attract an entry fee when accompanied by a paying adult.

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