Summer is here and families are looking forward to trips to the beach and summer holidays in the sun with their children. However the combination of water and children during the holiday season can be a potentially dangerous mix. Here are top tips for water safety for kids this summer and all through the year.
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Unfortunately a drowning incident can happen silently and instantly, in as little as one inch of water and in less time than it takes to answer the telephone. And sadly, a primary factor in cases of fatal drowning is down to the initial shock of falling into the water. Unfortunately, the danger is greater on holiday with the added exposure to swimming pools and the sea.
Everyone looks forward to getting away, letting their hair down and giving children the freedom to splash about. But parents tend to relax and gain a false sense of security for children in a holiday setting, when in fact they should be even more attentive than usual.
The good news is that using a few simple guidelines parents and carers can minimize the chances of such a tragic incident befalling their child:
#1. Never take your eye off your kids near water
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.
#2. Actively supervise young children around water
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.
The adult watching must be able to swim and not afraid to jump in the water if it is safe to do so.
Water Safety Ireland work tirelessly to educate people about the dangers of water, how to be water safe and what to do if someone gets into difficulties in water. They run lifesaving and water safety courses around the country and their volunteer teach a swimming and lifesaving program for children and teens at oudoor venues during the summer months. In addition they train the Lifeguards that patrol our Lifeguarded beaches & waterways and make hundreds of rescues every summer.
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 ringbouy or any floating object and call 112 for the coast guard.
Always report a missing ringbuoy if you notice it while out and about.
#3. Don’t leave your child unless it’s with a known adult
If leaving, even momentarily, take your child or designate a known adult to supervise – never leave an older sibling in charge.
#4. Check for a lifeguard and rescue equipment
Make sure there is a qualified lifeguard in attendance before you or your children enter a public swimming pool. Check where the rescue equipment and lifeguards are.
#5. 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
Take a moment to read: Drowning doesn’t look like drowning
#6. Save the local emergency numbers on your mobile phone.
Save the local emergency numbers on your mobile phone so you have them handy just in ase.
#7. Remember flotation devices are not life preservers
Flotation devices do not replace supervision and must fit properly. Toys and inflatables are often unstable and therefore a hazard.
#8. Check arm bands/floats for approved standards
Arm bands or floats should carry an approved standards emblem.
#9. Avoid beaches with large waves
Do not swim at beaches with large waves, a powerful undercurrent or no lifeguards
#10. Follow lifeguard advice
Find out where the lifeguards are and learn water symbols and flags indicating current beach conditions. Follow their advice.
#11. Stay sober
Drinking can impair your supervision and swimming skills – especially when combined with the mid-day heat.
#12. Learn CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
Make sure you know how to do CPR as seconds count in preventing death or brain damage.
#13. Teach your children these water safety rules:
- Never swim alone
- Do not push or jump onto others or participate in any dangerous behaviour in a swimming pool – ie 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 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
#14. When boating/fishing make sure everyone has a lifejacket
Make sure everybody wears a lifejacket when boating or fishing that is age and size specific.
#15. Teach your children to swim from a young age
And finally, teach your children to swim from as early as an age as possible.
Please take a few minutes to read over some of our other water safety resources, it’s only a few minutes of your time but it could save a child’s life.