Expert tips on water safety for kids during the warmer months

The days are warming up, which means little kids (and big kids!) are itching to get back in the water. As fun as the pool and the ocean are, it’s critical your water safety skills are as ready as possible.

“Unfortunately, we can never claim that a child can be totally safe in and around water,” says Marina Burley, Kingswim Carindale’s centre manager.

However, the mother-of-two says there are many things you can do to ensure your child can be safer.

Coronavirus has seen children miss out on swimming lessons, and some have also taken a break from them over the winter. It is more important than ever to recognise the inherent dangers around water.

“It only takes 20 seconds for a child to drown, so every second counts,” Ms Burley says.


Marina’s water safety tips

Actively supervise children in and around water. Maintain constant visual supervision by a competent adult and be within arms-reach of any non-swimmer.

Keep distractions at bay. Royal Life Saving Society Australia reports that “lack of direct adult supervision is the main factor in 70 per cent of toddler drowning deaths”.

Don’t play breath holding games. Make sure children understand that competing to see who can hold their breath underwater and other similar games can be dangerous. These games should not be part of any water-related activities. Your child is at risk of passing out under the water.

Never swim alone. Make sure there is always someone looking out for you.

Learn CPR. While you hope you never need it, knowing how to do CPR could save a life.

Enrol in swimming lessons. Learning to swim is a vital step in reducing the risk of drowning.

Gates and fencing. Make sure the pool gate is always shut and pool fencing is compliant with the relevant legislation.

Wear a life jacket. Young children or inexperienced swimmers should wear an approved life jacket in and around water. Remember a life jacket or other floatation device is not a substitute for active adult supervision.

Enter the water feet first. Severe injuries can occur from jumping or diving head first into shallow water or water where the depth is unknown. Make sure your child understands how to enter and exit the water safely.

Stay within designated swim areas. Whether you are swimming in a pool, lake or the ocean, staying within the designated areas is vital to safety.

Don’t jump into the water to save someone. Call for help and reach or throw, which usually involves using a long or buoyant object to assist the person to safety without putting yourself at risk.

When should babies start swimming lessons?

Ms Burley says babies are naturally at home in the water, having spent nine months in the womb surrounded by amniotic fluid. It’s why Kingswim recommends you start a learn-to-swim program as soon as you are able.

“At Kingswim we run water familiarisation classes called ‘Baby Play’ for infants from three months of age. We think this is the ideal age to introduce babies to the pool — having allowed parents time to bond and adjust to life with their newborn. It’s also when baby’s immune system to start developing,” Ms Burley says.

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By Angela Sutherland
After spending many years hustling stories on busy editorial desks around the world, Angela is now mum of two little ones and owner/editor at Kids on the Coast / Kids in the City. She is an atrocious cook and loves cutting shapes to 90s dance music. Angela is the editor of Kids on the Coast - a free family magazine whats on guide for Kids: things to do, school holiday fun and free activities for kids... Fun attractions, family food & travel, kids health & wellbeing, kids parties venues, parenting, pregnancy & babies, guide for parents. Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids things to do with kids, schools and education and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.

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