3. Where's the Danger
Children get up to all kinds of mischief. When it comes to water it pays not to gamble on their lives. Always look out for hazards and mitigate them by taking actions to prevent drownings.
Where's the danger?
All kinds of water - all be it rivers, tubs, baths, lakes, pools, ponds and beaches - offer a fun place to play but pose extreme danger for young children.
Under-fives are most at risk because they have not developed the skills to get out of danger if the situation arises, nor have the mental capacity to judge dangerous situations therefore they do not see the consequences that their actions may have.
At six months you can enrol your child into an appropriate swimming activity at your local pool. Lots of pools have babies swim classes and these are an ideal place to begin your child’s safe water activities. At six months, the child has had their immunisations and their immune system is good, they can take changes in temperatures and can have good head control.
You can do activities at home to increase your child’s awareness of water safety. You want your child to be happy and confident around water but at the same time developing a healthy respect for the dangers it can pose.
Water confidence can start at a young age. In the bath in winter or under the hose and sprinkler in summer, getting your child used to feeling water on their bodies. Encourage them to splash around and get used to having water on their face, it is a great way to precede organised baby and child aquatic classes where they learn to float, hold their breath underwater and other life saving techniques.
Like any learning experience, keep sessions short and fun. Choose a time of day when your pre-schooler will be at their best and the more often you go the faster, they will progress.
Look for water first
If your child goes missing, go to the water source as children are fascinated by water - check there first. Key points to remember are:
- Children are not small adults – they perceive and see things differently to adults
- Children have less strength, co-ordination and understanding of situations than adults and while they want to explore and try new things you must limit their exposure to hazards, particular on farms.
- While it is fun for children to play on the farm, at the end of a day it is a workplace therefore you have a responsibility to ensure that they are safe
- Children need to be supervised whenever they are in or around water
- Fill in any unused holes that can fill with water. Fence ditches and ponds
- Water storage such as wells and tanks should be securely covered so children cannot get into them and
- Put up signage to remind adults to shut gates and doors to protect the child from the farm water hazard
Since the year 2000, 146 under five years old have lost their lives to drowning. All these deaths would have been prevented if adults were supervising their young ones.
- Forty-five children have drowned in home and portable pools.
- Thirty-seven have drowned in ‘natural’ water environments like the beach, rivers, and lakes; and
- 35 children have died in accidental deaths involving buckets, drains and ponds around the home.
- Another twenty-one children have died in baths and eight have died in public and thermal pools.
- Eighty six percent of the above deaths were children aged two or under, and of those, 45 percent are children aged between one and two, just when they are up and exploring their environment.
- Babies (0 to 12 months) drown in bathtubs
- Toddlers one to four years are most vulnerable to drowning because they are mobile and do not have the ability to get out of water once they have fallen in.
- In high income areas, drowning in home swimming pools occur. In low or middle-incomes, natural water bodies, like beaches, rivers, lakes, pose the highest risk to this group.
- Babies and toddlers can drown in as little as 60mm. Empty buckets, vessels and any large containers that can hold water to prevent temptation to play in.
- Eighty six percent of all drownings for under fives happening in home pools are children aged two or under. Of those 45 percent are aged 12 to 36 months.
Statistics are from the years 2000 through to 2020