Be Water Smart this summer
A drowning incident takes many people by surprise, happening silently within seconds in as little as one inch of water and in less time than it takes to answer the telephone. Consciousness is lost after approximately two minutes; irreversible brain damage occurs after four to six minutes. Survival depends on rescuing the child quickly and restarting the breathing process, even while the child is still in the water.
‘Sadly, a primary factor in cases of fatal drowning is down to the initial shock of falling into the water. Very young children react instantly to sudden and unexpected submersion, and are temporarily paralysed with fear,’ explains Paul. ‘A primary goal of ours at Water Babies is to teach babies vital life saving skills, such as turning onto their backs or swimming to the nearest solid object. It is our belief that a baby who is confident in the water and has been taught these simple survival skills stands a far better chance of coping with an unexpected immersion; thus avoiding the heart-wrenching tragedy of losing a child to drowning.’
The good news is that using a few simple guidelines parents and carers can minimize the chances of such a tragic incident befalling their child.
Water Babies’ ‘BE WATER SMART’ Guidelines
Actively supervise young children around water. If you must leave, even for the shortest time, either take your child with you or designate a known adult to supervise. Make sure that the person supervising can swim themselves and will happily jump into the water to rescue a struggling child.
Don’t ask older siblings to watch younger children – they’re not trained or mature enough to be given such a responsibility.
Be safety conscious at the poolside.
Check out the location of rescue equipment and first aid kits.
If you’re at a private pool, key the local emergency phone numbers into your mobile phone at the beginning of the holiday.
Flotation devices are not life preservers.
If you’re using one, do ensure it fits the size and age of the child and that you’ve adjusted the individual floats accordingly. A poorly adjusted flotation jacket is worse than useless and can be dangerous. Without adequate supervision float rings can easily tip over and trap the child underneath.
Do not swim at beaches where there are large waves, a powerful undertow or no lifeguards.
Make sure you know where the beach patrol/lifeguards are and their rescue ability. Learn water symbols and flags used to indicate current conditions of the beach.
Stay sober near water.
Drinking can impair your supervision and swimming skills – especially when combined with the mid-day heat.
Make sure everybody wears a lifejacket when boating or fishing that is age and size specific.
Learn CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
Seconds count in preventing death or brain damage.
Teach your children these water safety rules:
- Never swim alone
- Do not push or jump onto others – it might result in injury.
- Do not dive into water unless someone has already tested the depth and checked for underwater hazards.
- Know what to do in an emergency and where to get help
And finally, teach your children to swim from as early as possible.
For more information please visit www.waterbabies.co.uk