The summer is finally here, the kids will soon have broken up from school, and 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. 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.
Drowning Prevention Week
According to the RLSS (Royal Life Saving Society UK) stats indicate that over 400 people die each year in the UK and Ireland from accidental drowning. Stats also show many are left with life-changing injuries or near-drowning experiences too. The RLSS believe that most drownings are preventable.
Lee Heard, Charity Director at RLSS UK said: “With June, July, and August proving to be the months with the most fatalities, it is vitally important that everyone has an understanding of water safety, especially during the summer months.”
The Royal Life Saving Society UK (RLSS UK) has a range of free educational resources available on its website for children, young people, and parents and is holding its annual Drowning Prevention Week campaign between 18th-25th June to equip everyone across the UK and Ireland with the skills and knowledge to make the right decisions about water safety.
Water Safety Code
Lee Heard added: “If you or someone else finds themselves in difficulty in the water, it’s vital to remember the Water Safety Code: whenever you are around water you should stop and think to assess your surroundings and look for any dangers; stay together when around water and always go with family and friends; in an emergency call 999 and ask for the Fire and Rescue service when inland and the Coastguard if at the coast; and finally float to live, if you fall in or become tired, stay calm, float on your back and call for help, or if you see someone in the water, throw something that floats to them and resist temptation to go in.”
Teaching your child to swim
Aquatots teach a safe and fun introduction to swim, whether your child is just starting out in level one or completing the seven-year course at level 29. They 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. They also include turning back to the side to hold on to a point of safety too, so if one of their swimmers fell into the water they would then know exactly what to do to get to safety.
Back floating is a skill taught 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 Aquatots also show swimmers the safest way to enter the water. They teach 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, they show swimmers the best body positioning and breathing techniques for that ever-anticipated independent swim!
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.’ Children should be taught basic rescue methods such as ‘calling for help,’ using an ‘extended arm’ if necessary to stay on the side, and not putting themselves into danger trying to rescue someone they may see who is.
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 a 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 gives 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 within 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 into the shallow end of the pool.
- Do not enter the water after consuming alcohol.
Drowning Prevention Week
Drowning Prevention Week takes place on 18th-25th June and free resources can be downloaded here.