Background Drowning continues to be a leading cause of unintentional death for children, with caregiver supervision promoted as a protective strategy. Accordingly, this study aimed to establish caregiver knowledge and perceptions of their responsibilities, particularly in relation to supervision in public swimming pools in Australia.
Method A valid and reliable self-report questionnaire was administered to obtain caregiver knowledge of ‘active supervision’ in conjunction with self-reported supervisory practices in public pools. A series of Likert scale statements provided data on their beliefs, including the role of the lifeguard.
Results A total of 137 caregivers completed the survey. Understanding of the term ‘active supervision’ was principally considered to be focussing all your attention on your child/children (74.3%), whilst fewer respondents reported having a clear, unobstructed view of your child/children while they were in the water (21.3%) or watching child/children most of the time (4.4%). Pearson Chi-Square tests demonstrated no significant differences in self-reported supervision practices according to child age group (X2 (8, N = 130) = 6.21, p > 0.05), or based on the number of children the caregiver was responsible for (X2 (16, N = 130) = 21.8, p > 0.05).
Conclusion Even with drowning prevention programs (in Australia) designed to inform and educate caregivers about supervision at public pools, this research indicates that over half of the caregivers reported supervising from beyond arms reach.
Learning Outcomes Low water safety knowledge and attitudes about what constitutes quality supervision are related to pool supervision behaviour and changing these may reduce drowning risk.
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