Renewed warnings over inflatable pool toys after 3-year-old boy nearly drowns

Image: supplied
Image: supplied 

Summer is fast approaching and, along with the warmer weather, comes a stark reminder to be extremely careful around backyard pools.

Queensland mother Shae Marr is desperately pleading with parents to take inflatable toys out of the pool when young children are swimming after her son almost drowned.

Three-year-old Costa was playing happily in the water with his older brother, Hunter, and Shae's partner, Fabian, when an unattended inflatable lilo went over the top of him.

It only took a second

"He was only under for a second or two but must have gone under when he had no air in his lungs and took a breath under water," says Shae, explaining that her son was not strong enough to keep himself up. 

"One second was all it took."

Fabian got to him quickly and pulled him out of the water, however Costa had begun to vomit water, lost consciousness and started frothing at the mouth.

"His lungs were full of water, he couldn't breathe and went completely purple," Shae recalls about the terrifying ordeal. 

Fabian started doing CPR and with the help of his dad, Mick, saved the little boy's life "just in time".

An ambulance arrived but Costa still had water on his lungs and metabolic acidosis due to the lack of oxygen, so the medical team prepared to fly him to Brisbane from the house in Emerald in Queensland's central highlands. 


Fortunately, his condition began to improve so they transported him to Rockhampton hospital instead. 

"Their biggest worry then was secondary drowning and pneumonia," says Shae. "By some miracle he woke this morning 100 per cent himself and the doctors were happy for him to go home."

Photo: Supplied/ Shae Marr

The experience prompted Shae to share details of what happened on Facebook and hopefully "save a life."

"It took a second, under supervision, for me to almost lose my son," she says. "I never thought it would happen to me, no one ever does." 

Shae is urging parents to take out lilos and inflatable toys when little kids are swimming and to learn CPR.

"My partner's first aid training is definitely what saved my son's life," Shae told Essential Kids. "Without him reviving my son, he wouldn't be here right now."

Be aware of the risks 

Sadly, not everyone is as lucky as Shae.

A recent report from Royal Life Saving Society Australia revealed that 965 children under the age of five have drowned in Australia in the last 25 years - with 52 per cent occurring in home swimming pools. 

And for every fatal drowning there were an estimated 7.6 non-fatal drowning incidents resulting in hospitalisation. 

"Adult supervision in combination with pool fencing is the most effective method of preventing your child from drowning," states Royal Life Saving (RLS).

And while RLS acknowledge that pool toys - noodles, floaties, dive rings, kickboards, beach balls etc - can be a lot of fun, they also come with risks that parents must be aware of. 

"Pool toys, when left in and around the pool can attract the attention of children and draw them towards the pool," says RLS. "Other pool toys, such as floaties and noodles can also provide parents with a false sense of their child's swimming ability."

Bottom line? Children must always be actively supervised in the water, even if they are being supported by a floatation device. And if they are under the age of five, always keep them within arm's reach. 

RLSA also offer the following tips on their Pool Toys Safety Fact Sheet .

  • Check the age and weight ranges when purchasing pool toys and make sure your child isn't too old or heavy for a particular toy.
  • Deflate inflatable pool toys when not in use and check them for leaks before use.
  • Securely store all pool toys and other non-essential equipment out of sight and reach of children and never leave pool toys in the pool when they are not in use