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Humble bathmat campaign a winner

Findings of a ten-year study into a Water Safety New Zealand social marketing campaign to parents and caregivers via a humble child’s bathmat has found that it has been instrumental in the positive change to water safety attitude, researchers say.

The campaign, which involves Plunket Nurses distributing a bathmat that has a water safety message printed on it, received praise from parents and caregivers who took part in a survey that measured its success.

The bathmats are printed in English and Te Reo and remind parents and caregivers to ‘Always supervise children near water – always!’ and are distributed at a child’s five month Well Child visit. Key water safety messages are also discussed at a child’s nine month visit and parents are also exposed to a water safety promotional material via a poster when they visit their Plunket Rooms each time. A sticker is also put into their child's book reminding them of key messages.

Back in 2019, a sample of recipients said the bathmat campaign was instrumental in reminding them of the key water safety message.

Researchers also found that recipients were able to recall the message on the bathmat and other water safety messages that were communicated to them at the various Plunket visits.

At five months a baby begins to sit up and it was decided to introduce the bathmats then as a way of preventing slippages in the bath.

Research into drowning statistics shows that adult supervision is critical to a child’s safety and that a moments inattention can result in a drowning in relatively small amounts of water.

Over the past ten years that the bathmat campaign has been running there were 54 drowning deaths recorded of children aged birth to five years. Most children perished in home pools followed by ponds and baths.

Eighty six percent of all under five drownings were children aged 2 or under and nearly half of those drownings were children aged 12 to 23 months – just at a time when they are up and mobile.

Active supervision is vital to prevent drownings and in all cases above could have been prevented with parents and caregivers closely watching their children.

Water Safety New Zealand and Plunket will continue to distribute and run the campaign in the future.

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