Close call as neighbour saves toddler from drowning

LUCKY ESCAPE: Robinson Zahou with his family, and son Brandon who nearly drowned.
LUCKY ESCAPE: Robinson Zahou with his family, and son Brandon who nearly drowned. Chris Ison Rokcpool

WHAT Biloela's Mawi Zahou woke up to seemed like a very bad dream.

But if events had unfolded a minute later, it would have been the young mother's worst nightmare.

Thinking her kids were safe from harm's way, Mawi took a rare opportunity to sleep in on Monday - she had the day off from work at Woolworths.

Little did she know, her two-year-old son Brandon and four-year-old daughter Jennet - both water babies - had escaped from her apartment and into the pool area through a broken fence.

By sheer luck, a neighbour stumbled across the children and saw Brandon nearly drown.

The neighbour, unknown to the Zahou family, scooped Brandon up in his arms, along with Brandon's older sister Jennet and rushed the children back to his mother.

"Our neighbour came into my house carrying Brandon, and he woke me up. He told me he found him drowning but luckily Brandon was conscious - and then he started vomiting," Ms Zahou said.

"I was shocked to see Brandon like that. The neighbour told me to take Brandon straight to hospital, so I called my husband Robinson at work, and he came home and we went straight to Biloela Hospital."

Just the night before, Mawi saw the pool gate needed fixing, and she was going to report it to the complex manager the following day.

When Robinson got the distressing phone call from his wife, he raced home from Woolworths, where he is the produce manager, and rushed his family to hospital.

After a short wait at Biloela Hospital, Brandon was x-rayed, then flown to Rockhampton Hospital by the RACQ Capricorn Rescue helicopter.

He was thought to be suffering possible water inhalation.

The very lucky young patient stayed overnight and was released Tuesday morning.

Annual National Drowning Report shows child drownings at highest since 2010

THE backyard pool is synonymous with Australian life.

For central Queenslanders, many employ the classic in-ground pool to beat the heat, but alarmingly, it seems the message on pool safety is not being heard.

Child deaths by drowning were at their highest since 2010, with the release of the Royal Life Saving Annual National Drowning Report.

Thirty-one children under five years of age drowned from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013, with 61% of those occurring in swimming pools.

While pool safety regulations have become increasingly stringent since changes to legislation in 2010, it seemed change cannot come quick enough, with 19 swimming pool drownings to children aged 0-4 up on the 10-year average of 17.

When it comes to pool safety, visual contact with your kids is absolutely paramount.

Co-owner of state-wide pool fence inspectors and safety experts My Pool Inspection Darryl Posgate said laws had been tightened since 2010 and that regulations would continue to be increased as the state moved towards blanket pool safety conformity by December, 2015.

"The Pool Safety Council has been tightening up definitions with the legislation and are continuing to tighten up things from two years ago," Mr Posgate said.

"Every pool fence in Queensland will need to meet standards by December 1, 2015."

Mr Posgate, who came from a law enforcement background which saw him become co-ordinator of national search and rescue teams, said pool safety was absolutely critical, as drownings were such a silent killer.

"It's not like you see in Baywatch or the movies with lots of splashing around and noise, it's normally one mouthful then they're under water, it's (drowning) silent," he said.

"When it comes to pool safety, visual contact with your kids is absolutely paramount."

He said that in general, levels of pool compliance were on the improve, with a tightening of definitions becoming more detailed, even including the types of material allowed to be used underneath a pool fence.

However, Mr Posgate said the danger was still inherent even with fully compliant pools.

"There's unfortunately a bit of a halo-effect for parents or for pool owners when they have a fully compliant pool because it's such a well-maintained and safe pool that adults supervising can sometimes tend to switch off a bit," he said.

"If you have 100% adult supervision then in effect there's essentially 0% need for pool fencing but the thing is getting people to realise how important supervision is."

With summer around the corner, Mr Posgate reminded people to be aware of what was necessary when it came to pool safety requirements, even prospective tenants and buyers, as pool compliance was critical.

Statistics: Swimming pool deaths in Australia

  • 31 children between 0-4 years old drowned in Australia from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013
  • 19 swimming pool drownings in 2012-13, up from the 10-year average of 17 for children aged under 5
  • Falls into water were most common cause of drownings, with 81% of deaths occurring from falls
  • 56% of drowning deaths in children aged 5-14 took place in swimming pools
  • 22 males aged 15-24 died from drowning in 2012-13
  • 4 females aged 15-24 died from drowning in 2012-13
  • 114 people aged 55 and over drowned in 2012-13
  • This represented a 30% increase in drownings for the over-55 age bracket on the 10-year average

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