This week we have another guest post for you, this time from The Baby Swimming Shop. As you know, here at Cuddledry HQ we are huge advocates for getting little ones into the water as early as possible, and helping them to learn the joys of swimming. But with that comes the responsibility of ensuring they are safe at all times in the water. So here are some essential guidelines on water safety for families. Please read and share this summer!
The summer holidays are in full swing, and with them is the promise of fun in the sun and in the water. As a nation, during summertime we like nothing better than messing about in the sea or splashing about in the pool. In reality, water and children can often be a daunting prospect. Children aged 0-10 (or even older depending on your child’s individual swimming ability) should always be supervised around water- pools, lakes, rivers and ponds can pose threats for all water goers.
According to the National Water Safety Forum around 50 children drown each year in the UK, many of them on holiday and during the summer months. Young children are especially at risk because they can drown in less than 2 inches (6cms) of water. To help you have watery fun this summer, we’ve put together a handy list of the main water dangers to be on the lookout for and steps that you can take to ensure that you enjoy the water safety.
The most obvious water danger, from private villa pools to the local recreation centre or hotel pool, swimming pools pose the same dangers.
Shared pools at hotels, apartments and holiday parks:
They might seem safe but hotel and holiday resort swimming pools can often be very deep and some are not lifeguarded so it’s essential you make sure your children are competent swimmers and are closely supervised around the water. These kinds of pools are usually very overcrowded in peak season so park your sunbed near to where your children are playing and take-it-in turns to go into the pool to supervise the kids to ensure that no-one gets into difficulty. Put 0-7 year-olds in a float suit for a little peace of mind.
Private pools at villas or small holiday complexes
Most private villa pools or pools at small residential complexes are highly unlikely to have a lifeguard present. Check there are water safety rings or other emergency floatation aides available before you use the pool. Also, find out if there is an emergency phone near the pool, check that your mobile phone is working and note the local emergency services numbers. If you are renting from a holiday home owner, check the status of the current pool safety facilities. We learned the hard way when we stayed at a complex that had a description on the website detailing a large lifeguarded pool for residents, but on arrival the complex was rundown and there had not been a lifeguard on duty for more than 5 years, nor any working safety equipment.
Pool safety advice
Beware of slippery surfaces as children can fall over and hurt themselves. Jelly shoes or pool socks can prevent slipping around the pool edge. If they want to jump in, encourage them to jump into the water away from the edge as much as possible, so that they don’t bang their heads. Kids shouldn’t run or push around the pool and told not to dive in areas that aren’t marked for diving. If a storm comes, vacate the pool immediately!
The sea is great fun to play in however strong currents, cold temperatures and rapidly changing tides can pose a huge threat to even the strongest swimmers. Beware of large waves and don’t stand with your back to the water because a sudden wave can knock you over.
If you have older kids in your party, teach them that if they’re caught in a rip current or undertow, they should swim parallel to the shore or tread water and call for help. Make sure you always have them in view.
Pay attention to any flags and notices along the beach that warn you about tidal activity and other hazards. Watch what the locals do on the beach. If it seems that the locals are getting out of the sea, you do the same.
Try to discourage older children to jump off rocks into the sea as there can often be rocks concealed beneath the surface of the water that can cause serious injury. Toddlers love rock pool and climbing on rocks, but again, stay with them as rocks can be sharp and slippery. Everyone loves a rock pool, right?!
Jelly fish and debris
Portuguese man-of-war stings can be very painful so tell kids to watch out for them in the water and to tell an adult immediately if they’re stung. Its best if kids don’t jump on them either, as stings can still be active. During or after storms, wood, rubbish and sometimes dangerous debris can land on beaches and float in the water. Tell your kids to watch out for rubbish and debris and make sure toddlers don’t stand on the jelly fish or throw rubbish washed up.
Inflatables and lilos
Used in pools and the sea, these toys can overturn without warning, trapping young children beneath the surface. Rip currents and coastal winds can sweep a child on an inflatable out to sea very quickly, and they can also get pushed against rocks.
Waterparks are a great family day out and are for the most part, safe places to play. They do, however, pose the same risks as swimming pools with some extra ones on top. Waterparks are always lifeguarded and have strict safety regulations. Read all official signs before letting your child on any rides as they have age, height, weight, and health requirements plus different depths of water. Watch your children constantly: don’t trust the staff alone to keep them safe. Water slides and rides can lead to high-speed collisions that can go unnoticed by busy lifeguards. When using waterslides, children can become disorientated when re-entering main pool or emerging from the water, so it is essential your children wear floats and/or float suits whenever possible.
Watch out for these other holiday watery hazards:
– In the bathroom – the loo, bede, bath, sink
– Out and about – Fountains, inflatable ‘paddling’ pools, large puddles, waterlogged fields, ponds and ditches filled with rainwater
– Leisure – Spas, jaccuzis and hot tubs
We’d always recommend packing an baby inflatable ring too.
What are your top tips for water safety this summer?