Whilst our office was closed over the Summer holidays here in Australia, our news feeds and the papers have been filled with stories of near misses when it comes to children and water. Children learn at a young age to feel comfortable around water whether through visits to the beach; swimming lessons or because they hang out at the pools of friends and neighbours. The odds however are frightening when it comes to the number of children who die through drowning every year worldwide.
Some of my favourite holiday memories involve jumping the waves on the beach with my dad and going to indoor water slide parks. These pools and beaches were places of huge excitement for me, they provided hours of entertainment and I was oblivious to any hazard!
But as magical as these places may be, adults have to be aware of the risks which exist when they plan any activity involving swimming. The ages and swimming abilities of all the children who will be with you need to be thought through and if needed consider if you need any additional adult supervision. Once children are above the age of 3 and understand how to follow rules, it can be a good idea to have some basic water safety rules that you expect them to follow when near to or playing in the water. These can be as simple as no running or no jumping in without an adult being there. It can also involve which pool/ parts of the pool or beach they can swim in if there are different depths or there are only lifeguards in certain places.
Remember that although swimming with mummy or daddy for fun is different to swimming lessons in structure, any flotation devices used in their lessons will provide your children with an additional confidence and can greatly help them to be safe. If you don't have these with you or are paddling on the beach, it is important to ensure that you are with your child and holding on to them at all times.
If you have or are responsible for a backyard pool, it is important to ensure that it not only has a gate but that the gate is functional and that young children are not able to access the pool without an adult helping them. If you take your children swimming in a pool like this, it is important to check the depth of the water and the temperature so that there are no surprises. You can also show this to your child so that they feel more comfortable.
If you are taking your child swimming in an outdoor pool in the Summer, don't forget that it is very easy to get sunburned whilst in the water and so apply sunscreen before they enter the pool. It is also helpful to make sure they aren't chewing gum, sucking sweets or eating anything in order that they don't choke if they are under the water.
With this in mind, we at Kids on Track hope you and your children manage to create the same wonderful memories in the water that I did!