The suspected drowning deaths of four Perth children under two years old in less than two months this summer has prompted authorities and the heartbroken father of one of the toddlers to plead with parents to be vigilant.
Ten-month-old Josh drowned in his family's swimming pool in late November after crawling unseen from his bedroom and out of the house through an open door.
He then made it into the pool area through a gate that had been propped open when his dad moved a lawnmower.
Josh's father has urged parents to be vigilant at all times, not only when they knew their toddlers were around water. "A few minutes is all it takes . . . especially when children learn how to manoeuvre themselves and are at that exploration stage," he said.
By mid last month, police were investigating the suspected drowning deaths of three other children.
One of the toddlers fell into an inflatable child's pool, one infant died in just centimetres of water in a shower and a young girl died after falling into the Mandurah estuary.
Det-Sen. Sgt Neville Beard, from the police coronial investigation unit, said children could drown in seconds in just a few centimetres of water. "It's not often that police talk about deaths but these are terrible tragedies and we would plead with everyone, not just parents, to be careful around water," he said.
The number of toddlers who have drowned in WA each year has dropped significantly since 1999, when 14 children under five died.
But Royal Life Saving Society WA general manager Greg Tate said the recent spike highlighted the importance of supervising young children constantly when they were in and around the water.
Parents should also check pool fences and gates, enrol children in their local RLSSWA-endorsed swim school and learn resuscitation, he said.
"We took every precaution we thought we could - we had cupboard locks and barriers to stop him from getting to certain parts of the house - but it was that sheer lapse of concentration in leaving the gate open, and we paid the ultimate price," Josh's father said.