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27th May 2023

Tips on how to keep your kids safe in the water this summer

It’s almost that time of the year again.

As summer hits and temperatures rise, it’s important that we are prepared when children ask to go the beach, the lake or to swim in the backyard pool.

Although swimming is the best fun and amazing on a summers day, water is very dangerous.

So, we should teach kids to be confident around water but not too relaxed around it either.

Most pools and beaches have lifeguards on duty to take care of us should any situation call for assistance, but if we’re at least armed with some safe swimming and waterside tips, then being prepared will stand us in good stead.

As always, Irish Water Safety has some great advice not just for the prevention of accidents but also on what to do in case of an emergency.

At home

It goes without saying that children should never be unsupervised when there’s water around.

Children have drowned in very low water levels, so please don’t just presume because it’s only up to their knees that no harm can come.

A simple trip and a bump to the head can lead to tragedy in the shallowest of waters. Even something as innocuous as a paddling pool should be monitored and supervised at all times.

Poolside

If you’re on holiday and fancy a trip to the pool, always check the depth of the pool before getting in.

Obey all the signage: No running, diving or dunking. They are there for a good reason.

If you’re lucky enough to go on holiday and you will have your own pool, create a list of your own rules for pool times and have a zero-tolerance policy.

If kids break them, they face a consequence. For example, if you say no running around the pool where the ground gets slippery and wet, but the child does, then make the pool out of bounds for an hour.

Choosing a colourful swimsuit for your child is always a good idea too. If they’re in a shared pool at a resort, you can be looking out for the brightest-coloured suit in the pool.

Lakeside

Lakes and rivers are one of Ireland’s greatest resources for fun days out in the sun, aside from our fabulous beaches of course.

But, they have their own dangers associated with them. It’s often hard to see what’s under the water, so always go in feet first.

If you’re having a picnic, steer clear of the riverbanks – they can be unstable and give way under you. Set yourselves up back a bit from the edges.

Depths of rivers and lakes can easily change underfoot. Try to avoid wading in rivers as it can go from shallow to very deep in one or two steps. Stick to swimming.

Even though your child may love to run and jump into the water, make it a rule not to. It’s never clear what lies under the water and one bad bang could lead to an emergency.

At the beach

The first rule at the beach is never to let anyone go swimming alone. Keep all swimmers in sight at all times.

Although your kids may love them, avoid bringing too many toys into the sea.

They can easily go out of reach and sometimes you have to cut your losses – it’s too dangerous.

Again, watch for the signs on the beach and note where your nearest lifeguard is located. Follow their lead – if they say it’s too dangerous to swim, then it is.

It’s always a good idea to introduce a ‘swimming buddy’ when at the beach.

If you’re going on a day out to the beach with cousins or friends, pair them up together. Each child will make sure the other is obeying the water rules and call for help if needed.

Enforcing this buddy system is a secure way to ensure your child has a watchful eye on them at all times.

Know what to watch out for

Drowning can happen anytime, anywhere, and in the blink of an eye.

It’s important to note that drowning is also silent. It’s not like the movies – drowning does not look like it does on screen.

A person in difficulty may be yelling and waving their arms wildly but once they are actually drowning they’ll be bobbing up and down and will not have time or indeed energy to call for help.

Their arms will instinctively go out to the side of their bodies to push against the water rather than waving them around.

It’s almost a lack of movement rather than distressed movements that you’ll be looking out for.

It’s a good idea as a caregiver to know CPR and complete relevant first aid courses so you know exactly what to do if this situation ever arises.

All of these tips can be used whether your child is swimming in the pool, in a lake or at the beach.

@scarnati.swim Another water safety tip for Water Safety month. Reach, throw, Don’t go. #scarnatiswim #selfrescue #watersafety #selfrescueswimming #selfrescueswim #drowningpreventionawareness #watertip #watertips #watersafetymonth #safetytips ♬ original sound – Nikki Scarnati

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