Having fun around all forms of water
Active supervision is recommended for all children around all forms of water environments.
- Never leave your child alone without adult supervision at any time - it's not worth the risk. It is best to be with your child in the water than on the shore supervising them. Not only does it provide a great time to bond with your child, you are able to keep an eye on them and be at the ready should something unexpected occur
- If Surf Lifesaving is on duty remember to swim between the flags at all times.
- The beach has special dangers like currents and tides. Look for posted signs about rip currents, surfing restrictions, and other water hazards. Also ask the lifeguard about the water conditions before you take your child into the water
- Don't allow children to swim or play in large waves and tell them never to stand with their back to the water because a sudden wave can knock them over. They are also too young to cope with the power of the waves and
- Be careful about rips and undertows. If caught in one with your child, swim parallel to the shore or tread water till help comes.
Public swimming pools
Public pools, with their water slides and activities, can be a lot of fun for kids, but the same safety rules apply there:
- Supervise, supervise and supervise your child. We can't stress enough how important it is to supervise your child at all times.
- Get into the water with them or at least be close that you can rescue them if needed.
- Read all posted signs before letting your child on any rides. Many have age, height and weight restrictions. Very few cater for under 5 year old's
- Be careful if you take a child down a slide with you. At the end of it you might go under the water and lose touch with them. If in doubt think twice about it
- Know which rides and pools are appropriate for your child's age and development. For instance, keep little kids in safe areas away from older kids' splashing and roughhousing
- Water depth and strength can vary among rides and features. Wave pools can start quickly go from calm to rough, putting even good swimmers in over their head and
- Teach your kids to follow all rules and directions such as not going into the water alone and never run around the sides of the pool.
Rivers and lakes
- Swimming in rivers and lakes can be fun however, as they don't have Surf Lifesaving lifeguards on hand they pose a big danger to your child
- Swim in a river or lake that you are familiar with but remember that the course of the water and more importantly, what lurks under the water, changes each season or heavy rainfall
- Weeds also pose a problem as they can entangle their legs pulling them under and making a child panic.
At Water Parks
Water parks can be a lot of fun for kids, but safety rules apply there too.
- Make sure the park uses qualified lifeguards.
- Read all posted signs before letting your child on any rides. Many have age, height, weight, or health requirements.
- Know which rides are appropriate for your child's age and development. For instance, keep little kids in safe areas away from older kids' splashing and roughhousing about.
- Water depth and strength can vary among rides and features. Wave pools can quickly go from calm to rough, putting even good swimmers in over their head.
- Teach your kids to follow all rules and directions, such as walking instead of running and always going down the water slide in the right position — feet-first and face-up.
Boating and Jet Skis
- When boating, the captain or person handling the boat should be sober, experienced, and competent. One third of boating deaths are alcohol-related. Because there are no road signs or lane markers on the water and the weather can be unpredictable, it's important to think quickly and react well under pressure. If someone is drinking, this can be almost impossible.
- Use proper-fitting, approved flotation devices (life vests). Check the weight and size recommendations on the label, then have your child try it on to make sure it fits snugly. For kids younger than 5 years old, choose a vest with a crotch strap between the legs and head support — the collar will keep the child's head up and face out of the water. Water wings are not effective protection against drowning.
What else do I need to know?
The temperature of the water is very important. Enter the water slowly and make sure it feels comfortable for your child. Water temperatures vary depending on the activity and a swimmer's age, so err on the side of caution and keep your littlies safe.
Remember that body temperature drops more quickly in water than on land. It doesn't take long for hypothermia (when the body loses heat faster than it can make it) to set in. Get a child who's shivering out of the water straight away.
Warm them up quickly by rubbing their arms and legs with their towel before wrapping them up in it. It might be a good idea for your child to sit on your knee with your arms around them to transfer heat to them.
A child in rough weather can develop exposure suddenly so ensure they are in appropriate clothing and/or remove them from the environment. Children also become fatigued in rough weather so remember to factor this in when in adverse weather conditions.
Loose water and sand being blown up in stormy conditions can be uncomfortable and especially irritating to the eyes - protect them with sunglasses and a hat. Avoid walking directly towards moving sand and water. Remove your child from the scene as quickly as possible.