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Keeping your kids safe around water.

Waterways, whether that be rivers, lakes, or oceans, are attractive to children. A natural playground. However, they can also pose significant risks if proper safety precautions are not taken. Let’s explore some essential tips to ensure your kids stay safe while swimming this summer.

Supervision Is Key

The most crucial aspect of water safety for kids is constant, active supervision. Drowning can happen quickly and silently, so never assume that someone else is watching your child. Ever. Assign an adult "water watcher" whose sole responsibility is to supervise the children when they are in or around water. As a responsible adult, avoid consuming alcohol or being distracted by your phone or other activities when you are supervising children near water. Your full attention is essential. 

Teach Water Safety Early

Teaching your children about water safety from an early age is another no-brainer. Explain the dangers of waterways and make sure they understand that they should never enter the water without your permission and supervision. If you can access free or discounted council or community swimming lessons over the summer period it is worthwhile. Or get in the water with them and teach them some simple safety manoeuvres like floating, rolling onto their back and “monkey gripping” the edge.

Use Appropriate Safety Gear

Ensure that your child wears appropriate safety gear when in or around water. As long as the life jacket fits properly and is suitable for the specific water activity. 

Educate About Currents And Tides

If you're near the ocean, teach your children age appropriate lessons about the dangers of currents and tides. Explain how these natural forces can make swimming in certain areas hazardous. Encourage them to always swim in designated areas, and look for the red and yellow flags. Better yet, enrol them in nippers! Lifelong skills and a love of the ocean awaits. 

Set Rules And Boundaries

Establish clear rules and boundaries for your children when they are around water. Even if the other families you are staying / holidaying with have different boundaries, make it clear that your boundaries are for your family and need to be followed for safety.

Be Prepared For Emergencies

Accidents can happen, even with the best precautions in place. Be prepared by knowing CPR. Find a basic first aid local to you, and brush up on this knowledge every year. Keep a phone nearby in case you need to call for help, and have a flotation device or reaching pole on hand for emergencies.

Dress To Survive

Invest in a bright coloured swimsuit that can easily be spotted above the water and from a distance. (The colours which are more easily seen on a pool bottom, worst case, are solid neon swimsuits.) Ensure real little ones who are still in nappies, are wearing swim nappies - a normal nappy becomes increasingly heavy when filled with water. 

Waterways offer incredible opportunities for fun and adventure, but they also come with inherent risks. By following these essential tips, your children can and will have a safe and enjoyable experience around water. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and prioritise the safety of your little ones whenever they're near rivers, lakes, oceans, or pools. 

Sarah is a Paediatric Intensive Care Nurse at a very busy children's hospital and co-director of PAEDS education, whose sole mission is to empower people with lifesaving education to keep kids in the country healthy and safe.