With swimming season upon us in full force, it’s a time parents need to be even more aware and extra cautious. All winter we long for the warmer months to return but with them comes the extra worry regarding the safety of our kids.
While we can’t panic or allow swimming season to conform us to a ball of nerves, we have to be extra careful with our little ones around open water. And yes, as vigilant as most of you may be, we can all use some simple reminders when it comes to the safety of our kids around water.
I would hate for anyone’s child to become part of a statistic and I’m certain that prevention is always better than cure, so here are some reminders of ways we can take extra precaution with our children during swimming season.
*These tips were found on the Arrive Alive website where you can find a wealth of other information around the safety and well-being of your family.
Safe Swimming and the Pool
Most incidents of drowning occur at our residential swimming pools! Too often do we neglect in our supervision and a toddler ends up in the swimming pool. How can we prevent this?
- We need to supervise as actively as possible – Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm’s reach to provide active supervision
- Parents should avoid distractions when children are near water and give them all of their attention!
- Even strong swimmers need adult supervision. Insist on life jackets for children who can’t swim.
- Parents should not only supervise but also advise on safety in and around the pool.
- Running on slippery surfaces is dangerous for everyone around. Someone could fall into the pool, accidentally push a smaller child towards water or hit the slick pool deck causing injury.
- Stay away from drains, filters and water intakes. Loose hair or clothing can get tangled in these structures — possibly trapping a child under the water.
- Teach children to swim. Most children can learn to swim at about age 5 — but know that swimming lessons won’t necessarily prevent a child from drowning.
- Remove toys from the pool – don’t leave pool toys in the water. A child may fall into the water while trying to retrieve a toy.
In my own opinion, I would say it’s wise to avoid drinking alcohol while near the pool with kids. While sipping on a cocktail sounds like a great idea its best to wait for when the kids are not in the pool with you as it can really affect your judgment as you tend to relax more.
Also remember that drowning doesn’t look like how they portray it in the movies, with loud screaming and flapping arms. It’s a lot quieter than people think and can happen under your nose.
Safe Swimming and the Outdoors
*It’s important to remember that these rules apply to adults too
Drowning also occurs away from the swimming pool in the wide outdoors.
Travellers have always been fascinated by water and a splash into rivers, lakes and dams. Drowning risk increases with changing environmental conditions, hazards concealed in murky water, and inaccessibility of emergency medical services.
It is important to recognize the unique hazards in the outdoors, to be prepared and take precautions when entering water in these areas.
- Swimming conditions can be unpredictable with water depth, temperature, currents and weather rapidly changing.
- Plan ahead! To be safe, you need to think about the water conditions, your own limits and the use of safety gear like life jackets.
- Wear a life jacket when you’re boating, tubing or rafting.
- Don’t swim alone. Never allow children to swim alone or without adult supervision.
- Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool.
- Boat owners are required by law to carry life jackets in their boats. Wear one even if you can swim.
- Be very cautious of kids using personal water crafts such as jet skis! They are intended for adults and require special training.
- Wear a life jacket if you are swimming in a lake or river where there are no lifeguards.
- Always enter water feet first – the first descent into any body of water should be feet first.
- Never dive or jump into unfamiliar or shallow water. Check for submerged objects and make sure the water is at least 3-4 metres deep.
- Ask in the area about where people usually swim and whether it is safe.
- Consider both safe entry and exit points when swimming in a river, dam or lake.
Response to Incidents of Drowning
Incidents of drowning may occur at any time. It is advised to be prepared for any such eventuality and to render assistance. Consider such scenarios and what you might need to ensure effective emergency medical response!
- Have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit available with emergency instructions inside.
- Know the emergency numbers and have a cellular phone [charged] at hand.
- Important cellular numbers may include not only that of a doctor but also parents’ work and cell phone numbers, neighbour’s or nearby relative’s number (if you need someone to watch other children in an emergency)
- We should all have learning CPR as a top priority – This is a skill that can be the difference between survival and death.
The best manner to prevent drowning is through effective education and training. Educate your kids about swimming safely. Enrol children in swimming lessons when you feel they are ready. Teach children how to tread water, float and to be safe in different watery locations. Teach children to swim with a partner, every time. From the start, teach children to never go near or in water without an adult present.
In any emergency have a paramedics number to call. For South African residents that number is 082 911.
Here are some other numbers you may want to save on your fridge!
- E R 24 Ambustat: 084-124
- NETCARE 911: 082-911
- Metro Ambulance: 10177
- Red Cross Children’s Hospital: 021 685 111
- Tygerberg Poison Unit: 021 931 6129
- Life Care Emergency: 0860 532 532
- (Vincent Pallotti Emergency Unit)
- Emergency from Telkom line: 107
- Emergency from cellphone: 112
(These numbers can be called from any cellphone, even if no airtime or locked)
Please remember to inform your nannies/grandparents and babysitters of these emergency numbers.
If you are looking to do a CPR/First Aid course, I can highly recommend Safe Kids who have workshops throughout the country.
Moms please let’s be careful around the pool and on the beaches this summer and I urge you to all, recap on your first aid! I’m planning to! It could be the difference between life and death!!