It takes a split second: distracted answering a call, checking social media, momentarily looking away, and a child can die by drowning.
Yet this terrible toll, which should be the responsibility of adults to solve, could be reduced by the extraordinary work of a young Catholic school student.
Aged just 12, Jorja Suga, has won a national inventors competition for her clever work using Bluetooth technology to send an alert to a supervisor when a child wearing goggles has been underwater for too long.
Jorja will travel to NASA headquarters in the USA after winning the Year 7-8 category of the littleBIGIdeas for young inventors, run by Origin Energy.
One of 1000 students who entered the competition, Jorja received a prize of $1000 towards developing her invention; making and submitting a final video pitch as part of her entry.
Her device, a redesign of traditional children’s goggles with a mermaid-styled strap, features a smart chip inside the nose bridge.
Jorja said she was inspired to come up with the new design during her own swim safety lessons.
“I learned alarming facts about the drowning rates here in Australia and in particular in New South Wales,” she said.
“I decided to research it further and found even more terrible statistics. I knew the drowning rate was a number I wanted to decrease”.
Royal Life Saving Australia found 18 children aged 0-4 years drowned in Australia last year alone and between 2002 and 2015, 128 children aged under five years drowned in NSW.
Jorja’s principal, David Fetterplace said he was particularly proud of her achievement.
“Scientific careers tend to be dominated by men and so it’s wonderful to see Jorja come through and make a difference in this field,” he said.
Jorja’s Year 7 coordinator, Ms Tiana Romeo, said Jorja had taken up a practical idea which would hopefully benefit many children.
“Its great news and very exciting. There’s such a need for this device, she was able to recognise and research that,” Ms Romeo said.