Since 19 December 2016, there have been more than 20 deaths due to drowning – and it’s only January! Most of these deaths were kids. One mother of young children was so disturbed by this statistic, she put fingers to keyboard to urge parents to take more care watching their kids around water.
It’s such a tragedy we are losing so many children to drowning. As the parent of two kids who cannot yet properly swim (although I’m seriously working on it), the mere thought of losing them in this way makes my heart ache, and I can only imagine the severe pain the families of lost children must be feeling right now.
But here’s the thing: supervised kids DO NOT drown. If your children are playing in or near your backyard pool (and I’m talking any child under about 13 years of age), keep an eye on them at all times. It’s really not that hard. Put the phone down, put the book down, avoid napping, stop daydreaming, don’t leave the area (for any reason!) – just watch your kids! The same goes for swimming holes, rivers, beaches and resort pools.
‘It only takes 20 seconds – just 20 seconds! – for a toddler to drown’
Sure, we parents are busy – it’s part and parcel of being a parent – but if your children near water, you can’t let your responsibility towards them slide. And this also means, for example, letting a teen watch over a toddler. It’s not fair to put the life of a child in the hands of another child, just so you can do another activity on your busy agenda. Instead, schedule swim times for when you can be 100 per cent present.
We can use the excuse that accidents happen, but if you are watching your children like a hawk near water, you will see your toddler fall in the deep end, your young teen hit their head and go under, your baby crawl too close to the edge of the water. And you will be there to save them. Voilà! No tragic news headline. Supervising your kids near water is a no-brainer, and no child deserves to lose their life because you weren’t watching over them.
It’s also a no-brainer (and the law) that pool areas need to be secure, and it’s your responsibility as an adult to make sure that it is, so all that’s left is to supervise. Seriously, if there is any chance that your pool isn’t secure, then don’t let the kids near it alone when you are not with them. And please make sure there is no way they can climb on something to jump the pool fence.
Another thing, while I’m on my rant, please please don’t rely on lifeguards at a pool, beach, etc, or rely on floatation devices to do the supervision for you. Lifeguards have loads kids to watch over and are doing the best they can and, realistically, each one can only go to the rescue of one child at a time. So, if you keep an eye on your children, they are less likely to slip under the water unnoticed. When it comes to floatation devices (think pool noodles, swimming vests, floaties), these are all great at helping young ones gain confidence in the water, but they are NOT safety devices. Your kids still need to be supervised at all times.
I implore all parents out there to please watch over your kids this summer. There has been more than enough deaths. Summer in Australia is supposed to be a happy time, with families enjoying the many water activities available. Let’s all unite to help prevent another child losing their life.
5 things you can do to help prevent drownings
1. Learn CPR – it does make a difference in the minutes before an ambulance arrives. Read: CPR: WOULD YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO?
2. Have your kids taught to swim – whether its via weekly swimming lessons or spending time teaching your young ones how to get out of a pool if they fall in, or helping them perfect their strokes, swimming is a vital lesson for all children to learn. Read: COULD YOUR CHILD STOP THEMSELVES FROM DROWNING?
3. Make sure your pool area is secure – ensure gates are working well and lock closed, and the fencing is doing its job. It’s the law, anyway! Read: POOL FENCING REQUIREMENTS FOR NSW
4. Teach your kids to recognise ocean rips – even if your kids know how to swim, they should be taught to swim within their limits, plus how to recognise dangerous swimming zones at the beach (if there are no flags to swim between). Read: RIPS – HOW TO RECOGNISE THESE OCEAN CURRENTS … AND GET OUT!
5. Supervise your children around water – this is the biggie, and vital to ensure no unnecessary drownings occur.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the number of shocking drownings occurring of late. Share your opinion in the comments area below.