National Water Safety Awareness Week is an incredibly important national campaign run by the Water Safety Ireland who are the statutory body established to promote water safety in Ireland. During the summer months, drowning incidents tragically start to rise, and with drowning being the second biggest cause of accidental death in Ireland it's more important than ever to be as vigilant as possible around water.
Message from, Roger Sweeney Deputy CEO and Marketing Manager from Water Safety Ireland ‘Water Safety Ireland is delighted to have a long standing association with Water Babies in the promotion of best practices for children and parents around water. Drownings typically occur when people overestimate their ability and underestimate the risks. Water Babies has helped hugely to mitigate this problem by providing interventions that promote learning that saves lives. Providing children with these skills at such an early age also instills a confidence that leads to the safe and responsible use of our wonderful aquatic environments.’
Below is a list of summer safety tips to give individuals and families the skills and knowledge they require to enjoy the water, safely.
Start swimming lessons as early as possible
Fear of the water is a learnt behaviour, so it is important to get your little ones accustomed to the water at a young age, and show them how to respond to this environment in a safe way.
“It’s really important not to pass on your own fears of the water. At Water Babies we see babies swimming from birth and have had pupils as young as a day old in our classes, although the average starting age is between 3 to 4 months old.”
Make bath-time fun
Start introducing water to your baby in a fun environment by making bath time enjoyable with songs and toys. Our Water Babies bath book 1-2-3 bubba in the sea, provides both fun and education for your little one. This positive association will then be transferred to the swimming pool and bigger water based environments. But it’s not just about having fun. For instance, did you know, children who take part in baby swimming reach developmental milestones such as counting to 10 much earlier than expected?
Be aware of your surroundings at the poolside
Be aware of the type of pool that your little one is swimming in and check the temperature. “This should be 30 degrees and if your baby is under 12 weeks or 12 pounds, this needs to be 30 degrees or above. Take in the wider surroundings also and check if there is a lifeguard on duty, whether there are any slippery surfaces, where the deep end of the pool is and if there are any cracked tiles; as these are all factors to consider when ensuring water safety.”
Kit your baby out in all the gear
“Always have a spare swim-nappy to hand and kit your baby out in a floppy sun hat, float jacket and happy nappy wetsuit. A belt-and-braces approach really helps to avoid leaks, which in turn helps to prevent the spread of all sorts of bugs. Our neoprene top nappy must form a good seal around little tummies and thighs, so this really isn’t the time to buy two sizes up and ‘let them grow into it’! Your local Water Babies office will be able to help if you’re unsure on sizing.”
Always keep an eye on your children
Always keep a watchful eye on your children, even if there is a lifeguard on duty. “Lifeguards are a great additional resource but do not solely rely on this. Designate an adult who can keep an eye on the children who are both in and around the pool and keep non-swimmers within arm’s length.”
Floatation devices are not life preservers
Floatation devices can be a fun experience for babies and children, however always keep in mind that these are not life preservers and even if your little one has floats, you shouldn’t take your eyes off
them. As these can either float away with currents and tides, or even tip over with your little one inside.
Paddling pool and beach safety
Paddling pools are great fun in the garden on a hot summers day, but always keep water safety a priority, even if your children are in a paddling pool with just a few inches of water. Once you are finished, ensure you empty out the water and tip the paddling pool over.
At the beach, always check whether there are trained lifeguards on duty, always swim in between the designated flags (familiarise yourself with these if you’re abroad, as signage can change depending on the country) and keep in mind possible rip currents and tides.
Learn BLS (Basic Life Support)
“When it comes to emergency and survival, every second counts. If you are abroad, make sure you know the emergency number and it is always advisable to have a first aid kit with you. At Water Babies, all our teachers are qualified life-savers and are trained to carry out infant resuscitation (a qualification which they renew every two years). All teachers also carry:
· First aid kits
· First aid books
· Mobile phones
· Emergency action plans, customised for each pool
· Local emergency numbers
Actively supervise young children around 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.
- 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 leaving, even momentarily, take your child with you or designate a known adult to supervise – never leave an older sibling in charge around water.
Be safety conscious at the poolside
- 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.
- Do not swim in a swimming pool which has cloudy pool water or where you can’t see the pool bottom
- Save the local emergency numbers on your mobile phone.
Teach your children these water safety rules:
- Always swim with others, never 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 any 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. Call 999 or 112.
Remember to stay safe this Summer and follow all of the advice above to make sure that you can have the most fun without getting into any trouble!
Special thanks to our Director of Aquatics, Hannah Smith and Water Safety Ireland for helping us to put these Summer safety tips together.