It’s that wonderful time of the year! The summer is finally here, the kids have broken up from school, and we’ve all survived what felt like the longest and coldest winter ever! Like most families you are probably thinking about a trip to the beach, getting the paddling pool out, and if you are lucky enough you may have a sunny holiday to look forward to soon.
For the majority, these plans are always enjoyable, but there are some safety considerations that need to be taken when enjoying time in the water or close to it.
According to the RLSS (Royal Life Saving Society UK) stats indicate on previous years an average of 700 people drown in the UK each year, and 60% of these are children. Stats also show many are left with life-changing injuries or near-drowning experiences too. Just like Aquatots the RLSS believe that most drownings are preventable.
Teaching your child to swim
We are extremely proud to say that throughout the whole Aquatots’ programme, whether just starting out in level one or completing the seven-year course at level 29 we include a safe and fun introduction to swimming.
We build on each individual’s water confidence and teach safety skills in every lesson. Babies from the age of ten weeks old up to 10 years of age will learn the fundamentals of water safety and what to do if they ever found themselves or someone else in difficulty.
Water safety skills for kids
Skills such as ‘holding on’ to the side, or at a point of safety are included from the very first day of the programme. If they should ever find themselves in water unaided they would know to hold on until help was available. We also include turning back to the side to hold on to a point of safety too. If one of our swimmers fell into the water they would then know exactly what to do to get to safety.
Back floating is a skill we teach throughout the programme, this gets the child to be confident lying on their backs in water which can be used as a resting or rescue technique.
It may sound simple, but we also show our swimmers the safest way to enter the water. We talk about jumping in safely to avoid accidents, and how to judge the water depth they are about to enter, and the safest way of entry into that water. And of course, we show our swimmers the best body positioning and breathing techniques for that ever-anticipated independent swim!
We do like to boast that on average. Aquatots see our swimmers achieve a distance of five metres independently between the age of three and four years – without buoyancy aids!
Children should leave primary school being able to swim 25m unaided
The national curriculum states that before a child leaves primary school they should be able to ‘swim competently, confidently and proficiently over a distance of at least 25 metres.’ This year we have seen swimmers achieving distances of 1,000 to 2,000 metres before they leave primary school this summer.
After they have achieved their 5-metre swim independently, we then introduce simple rescue swimming techniques such as treading water, independent floats, and swimming in their pyjamas! We teach basic rescue methods such as ‘calling for help,’ using an ‘extended arm’ if necessary to stay on the side, and to not put themselves into danger trying to rescue someone they may see who is.
Aquatots are in support of the RLSS to reduce the number of water incidents that occur every year. We aim to teach each of our swimmers the importance of water safety as well as making them the strong swimmers they will become before they finish primary school.
Tips for staying safe around water
We know some of these tips may seem obvious, but these are a few general ideas to keep in mind in preparation for helping you, your children and others stay safe around water this summer.
Keeping safe at home
- Make sure fences or gates are secure around any lakes, ponds or water features in the garden, including friends and families you may visit.
- Once finished with the paddling pool, empty it at the soonest time possible. Once emptied place the paddling pools or buckets upside down.
- Always make sure children are supervised constantly by a responsible adult around water and also at bath time too.
Keeping safe on holiday
Before setting off on holiday, find out what water activities there are around the area you are staying in. It is always good to know if there will be a trained lifeguard on duty at any local beaches and swimming pools.
Your little ones may now have now be used to lovely warm pools and a neoprene nappy which has been ample for their lessons. However, very often those holiday pools aren’t heated, and you as well as your little one may well notice the difference. We always recommend purchasing an Aquatots wetsuit to take along with you just in case the pool is cooler than you hoped. Do make sure it’s a wetsuit too, as lovely as the popular sunsuits are, their role is UV protection and not keeping the heat in!
The thin unique fabric retains body heat over 30% higher than a normal neoprene suit and is only 0.5 mm thick but provides the same protection as a 2mm wetsuit. It also offers UVA /UVB protection towards the sun at the same time (factor 50-60%), yet giving minimum buoyancy and drag in the water. They are also great for swimming at your local leisure centre as well as on holiday so well worth the investment.
Watch out for signs your little one is cold
Blue lips, mottled skin, crying or teeth chattering and tensing / curling up. If this happens, they may benefit from the extra warmth of a wetsuit, or make sure swims are kept short.
Keeping safe at the beach
- Make sure children are supervised and at reach at all times.
- Do not swim close to rocks, coral, piers or breakwater.
- Look for the water safety signs, these can differ with each country so make sure you know what they mean.
- Do not use inflatables such as dinghies in open water, they are a known drowning hazard and can be blown out to sea.
Keeping safe at the pool
- Keep young children close and under supervision at all times.
- Check out the layout of the pool, what is the depth of the pool?
- Do not dive in the shallow end of the pool.
- Do not enter the water after consuming alcohol.
More details and tips on how to keep safe in the water this summer can be found on the RLSS website.
Swimming lessons for kids
For more details about the benefits of swimming your baby or child you can visit Aquatots for more information.