Water Safety and your Child
Water safety is a huge concern for any parent. Whether you’re off on your summer holiday’s abroad, taking in the beaches or staying closer to home and lounging around your local swimming pool, ensuring that your children are safe and sound is a top priority.
Taking your children for regular swimming lessons, having the appropriate water safety gear and ensuring that your children are water confident and swimming in an age appropriate environment will all help to ensure that they are having fun in a safe and controlled environment. Supervision is key. If you are visiting a new location, ensure that you are aware of any ponds, rivers, splash or dipping pools and other bodies of water that may pose a risk. Educate your children about the dangers of each scenario and ensure that you are clear in your instruction about when it is safe and when it is not safe to swim.
Young children are, by nature, very curious explorers and unfortunately they are also top heavy which is why it is essential to ensure that your child is supervised at all times. If there is water nearby that may be unsafe for your child, ensure that the necessary safety precautions are in place to keep them safe at all times. During the warmer months, you may have large buckets or splash pools set up for summer play, ensure that these are emptied when not in use or covered appropriately so that adventurous tots don’t decide to take a closer look on their own.
Reducing the risks
If you have a swimming pool at home or one available to use on your holiday, then ensure that you have checked that the fencing (if any) is high enough that your child won’t be able to easily climb over it, any gates should be self-closing with a self-catch latch ensuring that the area is secure when others are entering or leaving the area. If you have a swimming pool of your own and you wish to ensure optimum safety, you may wish to look at a pool cover, drain safety covers, pump-shut off devices and even a pool alarm.
Swimming classes or regular swimming sessions (in a class setting and socially) are an important part of ensuring that your child is water safe. You can start swimming lessons when your baby is only a few weeks old, the earlier you start the better as children often develop fears and anxieties as they get older making it more difficult to teach them and therefore they are more at risk of drowning.
Holidays and group outings
If you are going on holiday or for a day trip to your local beach or swimming pool, ensure that all adults are assigned a period of ‘duty’ so that the children are being supervised at all times. If you are the only adult, then it is essential that you are watching the children at all times, napping or reading books will have to be done at another time. It takes seconds for a child to slip into deep water or become distressed and in the worst case, only minutes to save a life. For added peace of mind, it is well worth taking a child CPR class, this usually takes no more than a couple of hours of your time, so if the worst should happened to your own child or someone else’s child, you are able to step in and potentially save a life.
Messing about in boats
If your holiday or day out involves water sports or using boats, consider life jackets as a must for your children. Blow up water wings, rings and tubes are fine for use in the swimming pool but be sure to use life jackets that are fitted for the correct age/size to ensure that if your child fell out of the boat or off water sports equipment, they would be safe and buoyant until rescued.
Whether you’re soaking up the sun on a foreign beach, lazing around the swimming pool or enjoying the thrills of a popular water park, keeping tabs on your children can be a challenge for the best prepared parent. We’ve all seen the teary child holding the hand of a stranger who is looking just as terrified, searching the faces of those around them hoping to reunite child and parent.
If your child gets lost, do they know what to do? Have a discussion with your child and all of those who will be with you on your holiday or outing and decide on the plan if anyone should be separated from the group. A meeting point should be the go-to for everyone if they become lost or separated from your group. Ensure that your children know not to go off with strangers and be sure that they can identify the ‘meeting point’ from your location so that they can arrive at a place of relative safety easily if they need to.
Alternatively, you can take further steps to protect your child and family by purchasing wrist bands that state your name and a parent’s contact number in the event of a lost child or other emergency. There is a wide range of products available, all offering similar safety tools, essential gear to ensure your child’s safety so that you can all relax and enjoy your water fun as much as possible.
Water safety checklist:
✔ Regular swimming lessons or recreational swimming sessions to keep your child familiar with the water and to build their swimming skills
✔ Ensure that children are always supervised by an adult when in or near water, take turns if there is more than one adult so that everyone can enjoy the day out but if alone, don’t become distracted or undertake other tasks while supervising your children
✔ Where possible, always swim in pools or the sea where there are lifeguards present to assist if your child gets into difficulty
✔ If using water sports equipment or boats, ensure correct sized life jackets are available
✔ If your child is still in nappies, ensure the appropriate water proof swimwear is used
✔ Be aware of other, older children as boisterous games can often mean younger children are at risk
✔ Use water wings or other safety aids when in the water with young children
✔ If swimming in pools with graduated depth, ensure that your children are aware and that they remain within the appropriate area for their ability
✔ Keep track of your children with safety bands that show a name and number helping you and your child to be reunited in the event of becoming separated at a beach or busy swimming pool
✔ Keep splash pools or buckets of water for example, empties and upside down when not in use
✔ Check that the water temperature is comfortable, young children particularly those under two cannot regulate their own body temperature and may become cold quickly
✔ Make sure that your child regularly takes a break and drinks fluids to ensure that they don’t become exhausted while swimming
✔ Ensure that you are aware of any ponds, pools, or other bodies of water at an unfamiliar location so that you can put the necessary safety precautions in place
✔ CPR is an invaluable skill, if you are able to do a child CPR course then you will have added peace of mind when taking your children swimming
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