It’s National Water Safety Awareness Week (Monday, 17 June – Sunday, 23 June). Water Babies, Ireland’s leading baby and toddler swim school is advising parents to be extra cautious with their children around water this summer – whether it’s in the bath tub at home, paddling pool in the back garden, at their local beach or swimming pool.
Tragically 30 children aged 14 and under have died as a result of drowning in Ireland over the last ten years – that’s the equivalent of an entire classroom. Water-related tragedies can occur quickly and silently however they can be prevented. Water Babies works closely with Irish Water Safety to educate parents and change behaviour to prevent drowning and water related accidents and has created a helpful Prevention Against Drowning guide for parents, which is available from Water Babies website.
This week Water Babies will focus on water safety during all their baby and toddler classes across the country. Children will practice safety techniques and teachers will talk to parents about the importance of water safety for their families. Water Babies has also printed a bookmark in partnership with Irish Life Health to help educate parents and prevent drowning and water related accidents.
Parents and carers can minimise the chances of a tragic incident befalling their child this summer and all through the year by following these guidelines:
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.
- Empty Paddling pools when they are not in use, and turn them upside down.
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 (Ring Buoy) 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.
Flotation devices are not life preservers
- Toys and inflatables are often unstable and therefore a hazard.
Find beaches that are recognised locally as safe to swim, and preferably lifeguarded. Swim within your depth.
- Find out where the lifeguards are and learn water symbols and flags indicating current beach conditions.
- Please follow their advice, available at Irish Water Safety’s website, www.iws.ie
- Drinking can impair your supervision and swimming skills – especially when combined with the mid-day heat.
Learn BLS (Basic Life Support)
- Survival depends on a quick rescue and basic life support (resuscitation) if a child has stopped breathing
- Seconds count using Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to prevent death or brain damage.
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 112.
- Make sure everybody wears a lifejacket when boating or fishing that is age and size specific and has a correctly fitting crotch strap.
Water Babies and Irish Water Safety recommend that children learn to swim from as early as possible. Water Babies run classes for babies and toddlers in Dublin, Meath, Kildare, Clare, Galway, Sligo, Mayo, Waterford, Wexford, Tipperary, Carlow, Kilkenny, Cork, Kerry and Limerick.
Carol McNally from Water Babies said, “We recommend that babies are introduced to the water as early as possible so they are less likely to experience fear if they do fall in. In most cases it’s the shock of sudden submersion that causes children to panic. Swimming lessons can take place in warm swimming pools from birth, our youngest Water Baby was only one day old, and over the last few years a dozen of our pupils have saved themselves from drowning. We structure our programme to reflect children’s natural development phases and our little swimmers learn through repetitive teaching, word association, play and regular classes.”