Water Safety for Children
In the summer there is nothing more appealing than a dip in the sea, a paddle in a river or an afternoon at the pool or lido. And because we're so relaxed and having fun, we may be more likely to think about excitement rather than safety and that's when accidents are most likely to happen.
Danger of DrowningDrowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 14 and under, with children under the age of 5 at the highest risk. Many drownings and near drownings occur when children are left unattended by a pool, pond or In The Bath. It isn't surprising to learn then, that the majority of all drownings and near drownings occur between May and August.
It's also a fact that the drinking of alcohol plays a large part in drowning in adults, and the consumption of alcohol should be avoided at all costs if you intend swimming of any kind – especially if you are looking after children near water as you may be their one hope of rescue.
Even inside the home, toddlers and children are attracted to water and love to play in it. Unfortunately, they don't understand the dangers of drowning so you have to be their safety mechanism. Children can drown in as little as one inch of water in a matter of seconds and it can happen in the time it takes a parent to answer the phone while a bath is running. So always either ignore the phone or take your toddler with you!
Water Safety at the Swimming PoolBetween 60-90% of drownings occur in residential pools, such as pools in back gardens. Amazing as it may seem, a pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the unintentional death of children aged 4 and under. To keep your child safe, here are some straightforward rules to abide by in swimming situations:
- Never leave your child alone in or around a swimming pool or a spa.
- Teach children how to swim. Enrol children in swimming lessons taught by qualified instructors when your child is ready, usually after age 3. But keep in mind that lessons don't make your child 'drown-proof'. Take a look at our article Teach Your Child to Swim on GrowingKids.co.uk.
- Teach children water safety habits. Children should not run, push others under water, jump on others, dive or jump in shallow water or swim during lightning storms or other bad weather.
- Keep a telephone, emergency phone numbers and rescue equipment at the poolside.
- Empty inflatable pools and store out of children's reach when not in use.
Safety Advice for Open WaterThe majority of drownings among older children occur in open bodies of water. These drownings happen when an older child overestimates his or her swimming ability or when he or she is swimming in an unsupervised area (over confidence and showing off are usually involved). To prevent drownings in natural or open bodies of water, read the following tips:
- Always watch your child while At The Beach, lake or other natural bodies of water.
- Never let older children swim in unsupervised areas like quarries, canals or ponds. Make it clear they are off limits and tell them why. Many times children underestimate the depth of water.
- Make sure your child wears a personal flotation device when in or near natural bodies of water. Air-filled swimming aids, such as water wings, are not considered safety devices and are not substitutes.
Diving DangersDiving is one of the most hazardous water activities. Most diving-related injuries occur in pools with 5ft (about 1.5 metres) of water or less. Take the following precautions to prevent diving-related injuries and death:
- Do not let your children dive into water unless an adult is present and knows that the depth of the water is greater than 5ft.
- Never allow your children to dive into above-ground pools.
- Teach your children to dive with their hands in front of their face and to swim toward the surface immediately upon entering the water to avoid hitting the bottom or sides of the pool.
- Teach them to dive only from the end of the diving board; never let them dive from rooftops, balconies, ledges or fences.
- Teach them to keep their dives simple.
- Make sure your diving board is in good condition before allowing your child to use it.
- Do not permit children to run and dive.