In light of the tragic spike in drownings in NSW over the holiday period – 18 people have drowned since Christmas in our waterways – it is important to remember the combination of factors that best keep our children safe in the water.
- Effective Adult Supervision – This is the season of continual distraction, but constant supervision and being within arms’ length of children under 5 is imperative. If you’re at a party or gathering, one adult should be designated the main “Water Watcher” at all times, imposing safety rules, and constantly observing kids in the pool. Other adults also need to continue to supervise, but it is most effective to have one designated main responsible adult for overall pool safety.
- Have a well installed and well maintained pool fence– a gate that is never propped open and that is clear of any items that can be dragged to the fence and climbed upon. It is recommended that pool fences are inspected every 4 years.
- Enrol your children in Swimming and Water Safety classes with accredited instructors – the school holidays are a great time to do an intensive block of lessons, and skills can improve significantly over a short period of time. Make sure your instructor is Austswim or Swim Australia accredited and ensure classes include water safety components. If you have a pool at home, practise swimming and water safety in your pool with your kids, including how to navigate to the side and steps. Better still, have in home swim lessons in your pool at home to reinforce these water safety messages!
- Keep your children in wa until they are strong swimmers. Being a strong swimmer will equip them to deal with more challenging situations they may find themselves in, whereas simply being able to swim a short distance in a pool doesn’t mean they can save themselves in more difficult conditions. My 8 and 10 year old daughters are strong swimmers and recently swam out of a rip and to shore where an adult needed to be rescued by Surf Lifesavers.
- Have clear pool rules that you discuss with your children and any visitors. Ensure they understand the importance of water safety tips and rules for themselves and the safety of other visitors.
- Learn CPR. It only takes 2 hours to learn how to save a life and this knowledge saves precious time and significantly increases the chance of survival in any near-drowning event.
Research shows that the combination of factors above save lives. Also, remember that pools and waterways are so much fun for us and our kids – swimming is such a healthy and enjoyable activity – so be safe and have fun with your family in and around water.