By Cecile O’Connor
The mother of a three-year-old boy who drowned in the swimming pool of the family’s rented home says an alarm on the pool gate could have saved his life.
Kylie Parker was inside her home in Geraldton, Western Australia, last month when her son Jake Botica got into the pool area despite it being fenced.
She said she raced into the yard after her daughter told her the gate was not closing.
“I went into the pool area and he was at the bottom, underneath the water,” Ms Parker said.
“He was a loving boy. There was not a day where he didn’t kiss me or hug me or tell me he loved me.
“The night before we were yelling and screaming and telling each other we loved each other as I was walking out of his room.”
Ms Parker said just as smoke alarms had come to be regarded as essential, alarms for pool gates, which cost about $150, should also be compulsory.
“An alarm where if you open the gate it beeps and if it’s open longer than 15 seconds an alarm starts going off,” she said.
“My sister-in-law found one of these and put one on her gate immediately after Jake died.
“We change our smoke alarm batteries every year and it is the same with these pool alarms, change them every year and you could potentially save another child.”
Lifesavers say supervision is key, but every bit helps
Twenty-seven children under 14 drowned in Australia between July 2017 and July 2018, according to Royal Lifesaving Australia.
Royal Lifesaving WA said five toddlers drowned in the state last year.
The group’s manager of health promotion and research, Lauren Nimmo, said the pool gate alarms were worth investigating.
“Our main message is around supervision, but children are very quick,” Ms Nimmo said.
“Any way we can improve the safety barriers around swimming pools to give a secondary layer of protection is worth further investigation.”
Ms Parker has been unable to return to her home since Jake’s death.
She said she had barely taken off her Batman T-shirt because it reminded her of her son, who was a fan of the superhero.
She decided to speak out to raise awareness among parents across the country.
“If I can save just one child my son’s death wouldn’t be for nothing.”
Royal Lifesaving WA’s Ms Nimmo praised Ms Parker for her bravery in speaking out about her family’s tragic loss in the hope of preventing another child from drowning.