Swim safe this summer: 6 water safety lessons

Kinderling News & Features

Tragically, an average of 30 children under the age of five have drowned in Australia each year for the past 10 years. And as we move into summer it’s imperative to be aware of the dangers when it comes to swimming. Sarah Hunstead from CPR Kids shares the important information to know so your family can stay safe when splashing.

Above all else, supervise

There are many bodies of water in Australia where families congregate and swim, so the number one rule is to supervise, Sarah says.

Listen to Sarah on Kinderling Conversation:

“The blanket rule across all bodies of water, whether it be the inflatable pool at home, the ocean, or a lake, is that we always have our kids in our direct line of sight. Our little ones are within arm's reach. So the most important thing you can do is supervise your children. And that’s the number one rule.”

Don’t assume someone else is watching

It can be easy to assume when other parents, friends and family members are around that they are watching your kids. However, “it shouldn’t be someone else’s responsibility to be watching 10 kids in the pool. That’s impossible," Sarah says. 

Instead, she recommends that to be sure of your child’s safety amongst all those little bodies, you must be responsible yourself or communicate exactly who is watching who and when. 

Appoint a surveyor

Sarah recommends appointing a separate parent to ‘survey the scene’.

“Allocate a responsible grownup to be the pool watcher, and everybody there is going to take turns in doing this. So basically there are still people in the pool with the kids, that doesn’t negate the responsibility of having to be there with your children but there’s one person who is surveying the scene," Sarah explains. "They’re looking at the entire area, they’re looking to see what’s going on, that’s their job. Nobody talks to them, nobody interrupts them, that is their job to survey the scene. So put a scarf on their head, a crazy hat or wear a sash, something that says 'pool watcher' and tag team it."

Swap every 10-15 minutes so every person has a turn to socialise, but make sure there's always somebody watching it all.

Ensure safe interaction in the water

Be aware of exactly how many children are taking a dip and monitor their safe interaction, while staying close to the water. Sarah says that "all the parents [should be] looking at them and making sure that everybody is interacting safely."

Pull the plug

Don't forget that drowning can just as easily occur in the bath as it can in the pool. Sarah says it’s important to empty the bath or inflatable pool immediately after the family has finished using it.

“I’ve seen more children drown in inflatable pools or the bath than what I have at the beach,"she cautions. "You need to tip the kiddie pool out when the kids have finished playing. Water the garden with it, and I know it can seem like waste, but do it. When the kids come out of the bath, the plug comes out.”

Research, learn and teach

In addition to these safety measures, there are great resources on avoiding accidents so it’s important to make the time to research these and pass them on to our kids.

Sarah recommends everyone learn the Kids Alive - Do the Five checklist:

  1. Fence the pool

  2. Shut the gate

  3. Teach your kids to swim, it’s great!

  4. Supervise, watch your mate and

  5. Learn how to resuscitate

Other great resources Sarah recommends include the Royal Life Saving website and the CPR Kids website.