Eleven tips to help keep your child safe around water
Water safety is crucial whenever children are near water, even if you’re not planning on going in. Children can drown in as little as 30cm, with any body of water posing danger, from fish ponds to swimming pools. Drowning can happen quickly and silently so it is important as a parent or carer to be constantly aware and protect children from danger. We’ve put together 11 tips to help keep your child safe around water:
- Always Keep Watch – Active supervision is vital to protect children from drowning. Give all of your attention all of the time. Supervision is not an occasional glance while you are busy with other activities, but being in constant visual contact with your child.
- Restrict access – Always place a barrier between a child and water, this includes a pool fence, lockable spa cover, covering water features and fish ponds, or closing bathroom doors after use.
- Ensure fences are compliant – Follow our home pool safety checklist and arrange for a pool inspection to ensure your fence is compliant for safety. Make sure you regularly check your pool fence. Sadly many drowning deaths have occurred due to faulty fencing and gates.
- Remove objects from pool area – Children determined to get into pool areas will often use objects to scale fencing. Remove any climbable objects from the area, this may include furniture, pot plants, ladders etc.
- Teach children water awareness – Children should be taught swimming and water safety lessons from a young age, and continue the pathway of lessons until they are older. Children should be made aware of the dangers of water. Put rules in place for when they go near water and ensure parents and adults uphold these rules themselves to set a good example.
- Have a designated supervisor. If you’re with a group of friends or family don’t assume someone else is watching your child. Nominate several adults to supervise, with someone joining the children in the water too.
- Don’t become complacent – Floaties, pool alarms, bath seats and barriers are not a replacement for constant supervision. Do not rely on them alone to keep your child safe.
- Lifeguards are not babysitters - If you’re at the beach or public pool, do not rely on lifeguards to supervise your children. They’re there to help in an emergency. You must always Keep Watch. In busy public places, join your children in the water so you’re always within reach if they get into trouble.
- Stay within arm’s reach of children under 5. For babies and toddlers, you must always stay within arm’s reach if they’re in or near water. Be prepared and have towels, clothes etc. nearby so you don’t need to leave them unattended for any period of time.
- Empty or cover smaller water sources – Children can still drown in small sources of water, particularly toddlers as they don’t have the strength to pull themselves out. Ensure that you empty or cover buckets, eskies, bath tubs etc. when they’re not in use. Portable pools should be emptied or fenced if deeper than 300mm.
- Learn how to perform CPR – In the event of an accident, parents are often the first on scene. CPR can make the difference between life and death. Sign up for a CPR course to learn lifesaving skills.
No child is completely water safe. These drowning prevention actions should not be used individually, but together to maximise child safety – if one line of defence fails, the other prevention measures will be actively working to prevent your child from drowning.