WARNING - DISTRESSING DETAILS: Traumatic images have highlighted the danger of child drownings after an eight-year-old boy silently drowned just metres away from other swimmers in a public pool.
CCTV from the indoor swimming pool in Lianyuan, China, on August 14 shows the boy approach the stairs before jumping in the water.
Instantly he struggles to get his head above water. A man relaxing near the edge of the pool just metres to his right appears entirely oblivious to the boy’s desperate fight for survival.
After more than 30 seconds of struggling, another child climbs down the stairs to enter the pool directly in front of the drowning boy before changing his mind and climbing out again 20 seconds later.
At that point, at least seven others are in the pool just metres from the boy, while a man in a white T-shirt stands nearby, appearing to supervise other children.
More than two minutes after he entered the water, the distressing video ends. The boy is now lying at the bottom of the pool while the other swimmers carry on with their activities.
Eventually, the man in the white T-shirt spots the boy but instead of helping him, he points at him and shouts for others to save him.
The boy’s inconsolable mother is seen crying near the body of her boy, who could not be saved.
Yahoo News Australia has decided not to publish any of the footage due to the distressing nature.
Warning for parents as Australian summer approaches
The heartbreaking incident has sparked a water safety warning for caregivers as Australia approaches the warmer months of spring and summer where sadly, spikes in drownings occur.
Kidsafe NSW’s Executive Officer Christine Erskine said large bodies of water like public swimming pools, dams and rivers are “very prominent” in Australia’s drowning statistics.
“What we say is, if you’re going to go to these large bodies of water and even if you’re going to a public pool and you think there are qualified people there watching your children – when there are a lot of children about, they can’t watch everybody,” Ms Erskine told Yahoo News Australia.
“Active supervision of the children is so important, you can’t defer or deflect that responsibility onto someone else.”
Ms Erskine urged parents and caregivers to learn CPR and also stressed the importance of adults being able to swim, saying if a supervising adult cannot swim, the children should not be in the water.
But even if a child is a seemingly strong swimmer, it’s still not enough for them to be left alone near water.
“Learning to swim does not compensate for a young child not being supervised,” Ms Erskine said.
As Australia shakes off winter, those with swimming pools will be doing maintenance to prepare them for the warmer months. But even if the pool is not in use, it’s important not to get complacent.
“Check the gate, check the fence, don’t prop the gate open while you’re skimming algae off the top of the pool,” Ms Erskine said.
“If children are around, then everything still needs to be locked and closed.
“With toddlers, they ‘toddle’ because their head is heavy, so if they fall into a bucket of water or fall into any body of water, even very shallow, they can’t get out.
“They’re top heavy and once they go under, no noise comes through that water, which is horrific.”
Report sees massive spike in child drowning deaths
Royal Life Saving’s latest National Drowning Report shows 294 people drowned in Australian waterways in 2021 – an increase of 20 per cent on the previous year.
The report found deaths among children aged 0 to 4 increased by a staggering 108 per cent from the year before.
The report suggested stay-at-home Covid orders may have played a part in the spike in deaths.
“The increase in drowning among children under five years is devastating. Young children are at high risk of drowning, particularly as they become more mobile and curious about their surroundings,” the report read.
“Prolonged periods of stay-at-home directives while working and schooling from home is challenging for parents and carers, increasing the likelihood of distractions around the home environment and lapses in child supervision.”
Kidsafe’s Summer Pool Safety Tips:
Actively supervise children in and around water at all times. For toddlers, this means having an adult within arms' reach
Appoint designated supervisors at BBQs and pool parties whose role it is to supervise the kids in and around the pool. This role can be shared throughout the day so that everyone gets a chance to enjoy the festivities
Ensure your pool barrier is secure and in proper working order
Ensure no climbable objects are near the barrier e.g. pot plants, chairs, BBQ’s or pool pumps which could allow a child to climb over the barrier
Never prop the pool gate open, this allows children easy and often unsupervised access to the pool area
Don’t rely on inflatable pool toys to keep children safe they are not life saving devices
Learn CPR and update your skills regularly
Be mindful of other potential outdoor water hazards, as toddlers can drown in as little as a few centimetres of water - including eskys with melted ice, wading/inflatable pools and ponds
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.