Water safety is something that, although highly important, is often ignored or simply pushed aside by parents who do not think it’s important until it’s too late.
However, with the number of drowning deaths in Australia, highest at this time of year, it can’t be ignored anymore.
As swimming pools, wading pools and other backyard swimming areas are within easy reach of children, they pose a significant risk for accidental drownings. For parents, it’s important to be informed about all aspects of this issue, and that’s what we aim to do in this article.
If you’ve got children and they love to swim, you need to read this. Sure, it might not be groundbreaking information, but it could be something you haven’t thought about, and it might save a life.
Here are 7 Things You Must Know About Keeping Kids Safe In The Pool.
First, The Facts
Before anything else, it’s important to know the facts about drowning in Australia, so you can see beyond all shadow of a doubt how important it is to be conscious and aware of your children.
According to the most recent report on Australian drownings conducted by the Royal Lifesaving Society of Australia, children under five recorded the largest number of drowning deaths in swimming pools, accounting for 36% of all swimming pool drowning deaths in 2017/18. Falls into swimming pools were the leading activity immediately prior to drowning, accounting for 55% of all swimming pool drowning deaths.
That’s a lot of children who might have been saved if water safety had been prioritised by the adults around them.
1. Full Attention Supervision, All The Time
The saddest thing about these drowning stats is how easily they could have been avoided. In this research, it was found that in all cases where children under five drowned, their supervision was either intermittent or entirely lacking. This is not a difficult thing to do for parents, but it will save your child from drowning. If your child is in the water, you need to be watching them all the time. This means no checking your phone, wandering off for five minutes to grab something, or leaving them in the care of an older child. Supervision must be constant, and done by adults.
2. Within Arms’ Reach, Within Sight
In swimming pools, unlike in natural waterways, it’s easier to keep track of children. So, the generally accepted rule is that for children aged six years and under being within arms’ reach of a parent is a necessity, while children over six (as long as they are competent swimmers) can be within sight of a supervisor. Be careful not to overestimate the swimming ability of your child, as it’s easy for an inexperienced swimmer to panic in the water. Someone should be close at hand should this occur.
3. Edges Are Dangerous
Babies and small children are naturally very top heavy. They’re also very curious. Add these two things together and you have a recipe for disaster. As babies and toddlers begin to move around by themselves, discover bodies of water in homes like swimming pools and wading pools, it’s very easy for them to fall in. Often, they topple head first into the water. In many cases, they aren’t able to pull themselves up, and in shallow pools, they might hit their heads on the bottom. In both cases, failing to immediately pull them out of the water will result in drowning.
4. Swimming Lessons Save Lives
Many Australian homes have swimming pools, and those that don’t often have paddling pools or live close to a public swimming pool. In any case, it’s not difficult to get to a body of water in most places in Australia, and kids need to be prepared for that. The simple truth is this: swimming lessons save lives. Children can start learning to swim before their first birthday, attending baby and toddler swim lessons to get them comfortable in the water. As they get older, swimming will follow their natural development, and allow them to be safer around any body of water.
5. Fences Are The Law
For families with a swimming pool, it is the law that your pool be appropriately fenced and out of reach of children. If you do not have an appropriate fence around your pool or spa, you could be putting your children and other children at risk. Without a parent or adult, children should not be able to get into the pool at all. This means a locking system they cannot reach, and no chairs or other items they can climb on to access the pool. Keeping a swimming pool out of reach for children means they cannot access it when you are not actively supervising them.
6. Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
In all honestly, it’s not difficult for a child to drown. Small children can drown in just a few minutes, and they can drown in bathtubs and even small paddling pools that adults do not think pose a direct threat. That’s why it pays to be very aware of your surroundings as a parent. We already know that swimming pools need to be fenced. But if you have a small paddling pool that isn’t a permanent construction, make sure that it is put away or stored in such a way that it cannot collect water. After summer rains, paddling pools can fill up again, becoming a drowning hazard.
There is nothing worse than losing a child, especially when that loss is from a preventable tragedy like drowning. Use these tips to become a more conscious and aware parent, and save your children from drowning in swimming pools.
Facts And Stats From Royal Lifesaving Society Australia.
7. Get a Lachlan’s Legacy Rash Shirt
WA mum, Melanie Mitchell, lost her son, Lachlan tragically when he drowned in a day care pool in 2015. She did not want this to happen to any other child or family, so she has been working tirelessly with Royal Life Saving WA to raise the profile of water safety and drowning prevention for children under 5 years.
The latest endeavour is the creation of Lachlan’s Legacy rash shirts. These special shirts have a large, bold water safety message on the back to keep water safety up front and centre around water in the community.
They were designed to empower parents to help be part of the solution for toddler drowning by keeping the message out there to watch little kids around water. They have been designed in bright colours and bold print to draw the attention of everyone.