With the Easter Holidays upon us, thinking about staying safe in the pool or in our local waterways should be at the forefront of our minds. This month, PakMag sat down with pool safety legend, Laurie Lawrence for his tips on how we can all incorporate staying safe around the pool into our lives.
No matter who you are, you will undoubtedly know about Laurie’s ‘Kids Alive – Do The Five’ program, and I’m willing to bet that many of you are singing the jingle in your head as you read this. And, that’s exactly what Laurie is looking for.
In 1988, Laurie developed a program to educate Australians about pool safety and nearly 30 years on, the fundamentals of his program have not changed.
“For me it’s more relevant than ever,” Laurie says. “When I first started, Queensland led the world in pre-school drownings. We had 27 children drown in Queensland alone and the government wanted to bring in pool fencing legislation…so they brought me in to go around the state and educate people on water safety. It was called Operation Waterwise.”
Over three years, Laurie and his team visited schools and communities to educate children and parents on water safety. The campaign was a success; drowning deaths decreased from 27 to 13, with only one backyard pool death. Deeming their work done, the government ended the campaign. Unfortunately, three years after Operation Waterwise ended, drowning deaths had risen from 13 to 26.
So, Laurie went back to work. “I looked and I said, yes, there’s pool fencing legislation now, but there’s no parallel education campaign running with it. So, I went back to the government and I said, let me try again.”
Laurie pinpointed the five things he thought were essential for pool safety and with the help of family and friends they created the “Kids Alive – Do the Five” program and well-known jingle. He toured Queensland again, spreading his pool safety message and, once again, drowning deaths fell from 26 to 10!
The Queensland campaign was successful but it was Laurie’s daughter who encouraged him to campaign to the federal government for funding to get his message to every parent and every child in Australia. And that’s exactly what he did.
The program is now so much more than a jingle. With DVDs, books and videos, Laurie’s has now educated millions of Australians. What’s more, last year, national drowning stats for under 5s stood at 21; the lowest recorded number on record.
“That’s no reason to celebrate, because 21 is a bus load of kids,” Laurie says. “But we are on the right track. I believe in pool fencing but more importantly, I believe in keeping the message front of mind for parents and children.”
Laurie says, “It’s not Kids Alive Do the One, it’s Kids Alive Do the Five, you need to do it all to be safe in and around water.”
So, make sure you fence the pool, shut the gate, teach your kids to swim, watch your mate and learn how to resuscitate to be safe this Easter Holiday and beyond.
Click here to visit the website for more information, resources and tips for you and your family.
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