Water safety for kids
Parents need to be extra vigilant when their kids are around water.

Did you know that drowning is one of the top causes of unnatural death amongst children in South Africa? The following points really bring the message home:

  • 90% of children who drown are under supervision.
  • For every child that dies from drowning, five are left with permanent brain damage.
  • Toddlers are the most vulnerable to drowning.
  • Coastal incidents mostly involve 10 to 18 year olds.
  • Inland incidents mostly involve 2 to 8 year olds.

Most kids are drawn to water like a moth to a flame. It’s sparkly, things float in it… but, being one of the most ominous hazards that your child will encounter; water safety is no laughing matter. These scary statistics should make us as parents more aware of the necessary precautions to prevent drowning.
Keep your children safe in and near water by following simple water safety guidelines.

Residential Pools and Spas

  • Fence it in. Surround your pool with a fence that’s at least 1.2 meters tall. Make sure that fences have no gaps wider than 10cm, so kids can’t squeeze through. Install self-closing and self-latching gates with latches that are beyond a child’s reach. Ask your neighbours to do the same.
  • Install alarms. If your house serves as a fourth side of a fence around the pool, install door alarms. Add an underwater pool alarm that sounds when something hits the water. Make sure that you can hear the alarm inside the house.
  • Use a lockable safety cover on your pool and spa and make sure that they are in good working order. Don’t allow water to collect on the top of the cover. A toddler could drown in 2.5cm of water. Empty inflatable pools after every use. Remove ladders from above ground pools.
  • Keep your eyes peeled. Children who are swimming – even in a shallow toddler’s pool – should always be supervised by an adult, preferably one who knows CPR. The adult should be within an arms- length, providing “touch supervision” whenever infants, toddlers or young children are in or around water.
  • Learn to swim and teach your child how to swim. Remember that swimming lessons won’t necessarily prevent a child from drowning.
  • Enforce safety rules. No running near the pool and no pushing others under.
  • Don’t allow your child to use inflatable toys or mattresses in place of a life jacket. They may deflate suddenly or your child may slip off them into the water.
  • Keep emergency equipment handy. Have a phone in the pool area with emergency numbers clearly marked. Keep a safety ring with a rope nearby at all times.
Natural bodies of water
  • Swimming conditions in the ocean, ponds or lakes can be unpredictable. Never allow kids to swim without adult supervision.
  • Kids should always wear a life-vest whenever in a boat or fishing. An air-filled swimming aid is not a substitute.
  • Make sure that kids stay in designated areas when swimming at the beach.

Toilets, bathtubs and buckets

  • Supervise bath time. Never leave a child in the care of another child. Drain the water from the tub immediately after use.
  • Shut toilet lids. Consider installing childproof locks on toilet lids.
  • Store buckets safely. Empty buckets and other containers after use. Don’t leave them outside where they might accumulate water.

Parents often assume they’ll hear their child splash or cry if she falls into the water, but drowning is usually quick and silent. Once a child’s head goes under water, it only takes a few minutes for her heart to stop and brain damage to occur.

Off course, even if you’re diligent about water safety, accidents are still possible. Follow these simple rules to keep your kids safe in the water. Parents as well as child minders are encouraged to take a basic life support class.

See more healthy living tips at the Fedhealthy blog.

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