8 Water Safety Essentials for Parents in 2017
With an astonishing 225 drownings or near drownings between November and January, every parent needs to know these water safety tips.
Australian’s love the outdoors and it’s not surprising considering our long summers and gorgeous beaches. But while lounging by the pool or at the beach can be relaxing, water safety is incredibly important, especially if you have children and even if those children know how to swim.
Pools and beaches should bring joy to children, so we’ve compiled the best tips to help you create a safe environment for the entire family and give you peace of mind this summer.
Statistics show that in children under five, 81 per cent of drownings occur due to children falling into water. The majority of these can be prevented with adequate pool fencing. The NSW Government has strict laws regarding pool fencing. Requirements for all pools/spas with a depth of 30cm or greater include:
- be at least 1.2m high (as measured from the finished ground level)
- not leave a gap at the bottom bigger than 10cm from the finished ground level
- not have gaps of more than 10cm between any vertical bars in the fence
- if containing horizontal climbable bars, have these spaced at least 90cm apart.
- have a clear area (300mm) where no nearby horizontal surfaces can be used as holds for climbing
Start Swimming Lessons Young
Want to give your kids the tools to protect themselves and others? Invest in swimming lessons early. A study in the U.S found “participation in formal swimming lessons was associated with an 88% reduction in the risk of drowning in the 1- to 4-year-old children.”
Start with parent and bub classes when they’re a few months old and continue lessons until they’re confident swimmers – usually about 11 or 12 years old. Most swimming centres offer before and after school swimming classes. Register your interest in swimming lessons for your child here.
The City of Monash council in Victoria instigated inspection of 151 pools in the year-to-November 2016. The results showed 143 pools (that’s over 94%!) were not compliant, including having “poorly maintained gate latches”.
Pool gates are typically close to the water and exposed to hot weather, which means doors on the pool and spa barriers could shift, making them difficult to latch or close.
Replacing old, sun-warped gates/hinges with soft-close hinges will ensure that the gate closes safely behind you every time, which is especially important for families with pools.
Remove Pool Toys
Packing away pool toys in the shed or a cupboard at the end of the day means that your children aren’t going to be tempted to reach across the pool to try and catch their favourite blow up animal or noodle. While we know this means you might need to hose off the toys each time they’re pulled out, and that’s a pain, if it saves your kids lives, it’s worth the hassle.
You might have alarms on your front and back entrances but have you ever considered a pool alarm? If your kids are at an age that you feel comfortable leaving them alone in the yard or family room for a few minutes while you go to the bathroom or hang out laundry, you might feel that nothing can happen in five minutes – but it can.
In fact, a child can lose consciousness in less than 2 minutes unsupervised in the water. Installing an alarm on your pools fencing will alert you to anyone crossing the threshold. You can even install underwater alarms that will alert you if someone falls into the pool. Genius!
Learn First Aid
No matter how many precautions you take, accidents can and do happen, so set yourself and any other adults or older children in your family up with CPR training. A study examined 90 cases of bystander CPR by lay-persons (non-professional) on removal from the water – 82 survived, which is a 91% survival rate.
To keep your certificate current, you’re required to re-complete the course every year which means you’ll always feel prepared to take control in the incident of an accident.
Supervise all water-related activities
Children should always be supervised while swimming in a pool or at the beach. If it’s a social gathering, have adults take turns watching the kids and if it’s just your family, make time by the water a family activity that includes everyone.
If you have to leave the kids unattended for whatever reason, have them leave the pool area with you – you might be the uncool parent for a minute, but when they’re older they’ll be glad you cared about their water safety.
Invest in a pool cover
A rigid pool cover that blocks water access can be installed across most pools and will inhibit your child’s ability to jump in the water. Of course, this should not be a substitute for a fence, which will provide the greatest protection to your family.
Teach your kids how to enter the water safely
Finally, show your kids how to enter the water safely by using the steps installed in the pool. If they want to jump in (and what kid doesn’t?), explain to them the importance of checking the depth of the water to ensure it’s suitable for jumping into and making sure they always enter feet first, as a broken ankle is far easier to mend than a broken neck!