It’s shocking to think that 30 children aged 14 and under drowned in Ireland in ten years – that’s a classroom of kids. Water-related tragedies happen quickly, silently and sometimes in just inches of water. They happen beside others who may be completely unaware. Here is some essential advice and water safety tips as part of Irish Water Safety’s National Water Safety Awareness Week – advice that is proven to save lives.
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General Water Safety Tips
Always actively supervise young children around water.
#1. Keep an eye at all times on your child
Parents must keep an eye on their children at ALL times – they can be easily distracted chatting to other parents, reading a newspaper or talking on the phone.
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#2. Stay within an arm’s reach
Supervising adults should be in arms reach of children under five so that if a child slips underwater, they can be pulled to safety immediately
#3. Supervising adults should be able to swim
The adult watching MUST be able to swim and not afraid to jump in the water.
#4. Never leave another child in charge
If leaving, even momentarily, take your child with you or designate a known adult to supervise – never leave an older sibling in charge around water.
Pool Water Safety
#5. Check if there’s a lifeguard at the pool
Make sure there is a qualified lifeguard in attendance before you or your children enter a public swimming pool.
#6. Check where the rescue equipment and lifeguards are.
Make sure you know where lifeguards are sitting/standing and where rescue equipment is located.
#7. Don’t swim in cloudy water
Do not swim in a swimming pool which has cloudy pool water or where you can’t see the pool bottom
#8. Remember flotation devices are not life preservers
Toys and inflatables are often unstable and therefore a hazard.
Beach Water Safety
#9. Use safe beaches
Find beaches that are recognised locally as safe to swim, and preferably lifeguarded.
#10. Swim within your depth
Don’t go out too far and be careful of currents.
#11. Check current beach conditions before you swim
Find out where the lifeguards are and learn water symbols and flags indicating current beach conditions.
#12. Always follow lifeguards advice
Always pay attention to what lifeguards are telling you.
How to Help if Someone is in Trouble in Water
If you see someone in difficulty these simple steps may save a life:
- Shout to the casualty and encourage them to shore. This may orientate them just enough.
- Reach out with a long object such as a branch or a piece of clothing but do not enter the water yourself.
- Throw a ringbuoy or any floating object and call 112 for the coast guard.
Always report a missing ringbuoy if you notice it while out and about.
Boating/Fishing Water Safety
#13. Always wear a lifejacket
Make sure everybody wears a lifejacket when boating or fishing that is age and size specific and has a correctly fitting crotch strap.
#14. Don’t have too many in the boat at once
Never overload your boat with too many people.
#15. Keep numbers handy
Save the local emergency numbers on your mobile phone.
#16. Stay sober
Drinking can impair your supervision and swimming skills – especially when combined with the midday heat.
#17. Learn BLS (Basic Life Support)
Survival depends on a quick rescue and basic life support (resuscitation) if a child has stopped breathing. Seconds count using Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to prevent death or brain damage.
Finally teach your children these key water safety rules:
- Always swim with others, never alone
- Do not push or jump onto others or participate in any dangerous behaviour in a swimming pool, such as horseplay, wrestling, running, jumping and dive bombing – it might result in injury.
- Do not dive into water unless someone has already tested the depth and checked for any underwater hazards. Diving into insufficient water depths can cause face, head and spinal injuries and even death.
- Know what to do in an emergency and where to get help. Call 112.
By following these guidelines parents and carers can minimise the chances of a tragic incident befalling their child this summer and all through the year.
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