As the kids start their summer school holidays, now’s the time to talk to them about how to keep safe in and around your swimming pool.
“Water is only safe when you’re watching,” says Royal Life Saving Society – NSW CEO Michael Ilinsky. “Distractions like answering the phone, attending to another child, or ducking inside to grab something can have tragic consequences if a toddler is left unattended by water.
“Actively supervise children around water, check your pool fence and gate, and never prop the pool gate open. Swimming lessons are great, but they are no substitute for active supervision and a pool fence in good working order.”
Designed for parents and carers of children under five, the Royal Life Saving’s Keep Watch program promotes four key actions when in and around pools:
Supervise – Active supervision means focusing all of your attention on your children all of the time, when they are in, on or around the water. Stay within arms’ reach
Restrict access – Placing a barrier around water, such as a correctly installed and regularly maintained pool fence with a self-closing and self-latching gate. Inflatable pools with a depth greater than 300mm also need to be fenced in accordance with state or territory legislation
Water awareness – Familiarise your children with water by enrolling them in water awareness classes and spending time with them in the water. Set rules around water and discuss water safety with your child
Resuscitate – A family member is the first on the scene in most emergency situations. In fact, many children are alive today because their parents knew how to perform CPR and responded quickly. Learn how to resuscitate and ensure your skills are up-to-dat
Make it Safe
If you have an inflatable or wading pool, Royal Life Saving’s Make it Safe program has five simple tips to ‘make it safe’ for your kids:
- Check with your local council regarding fencing requirements
- Ensure you always actively supervise children within arms’ reach whenever they are in, or around the water
- Never rely on older children to supervise younger children, no matter how confident you are about their ability to supervise the younger child
- Ensure you empty smaller pools and put them away when you are finished with them
- Always store portable pools safely away from young children, and ensure the pool cannot fill with rain water or water from sprinklers
A fun and interactive online water safety quiz
Royal Life Saving has developed an online Water Safety Quiz you can use to test your children’s knowledge of how to keep safe in, on, and around the water. And who knows, you might learn a thing or two!
It asks 27 questions related to the following:
- Safe and unsafe behaviours and hazards at a variety of aquatic locations
- Correct and incorrect water safety rules at a variety of aquatic locations
- Survival and rescue skills for use in emergency situations
- CPR procedures
Children have 20 minutes to answer as many questions as they can and, once completed, they will receive a certificate, which you can print at home.
Swimart’s key safety summer tips include:
- Keep fences, gates and child resistant locks in good working order
- Ensure there are no gaps under the pool fence that young children can climb under
- All fences should be at least 1.2 metres high*
- Gates must swing outward from the pool area and be self-closing and latching from any position
- Children should be taught to swim from an early age
- Never leave gates or doors propped open
- Don’t leave objects near the fence which children can move to gain access to the pool
- Learn CPR
*Each state and territory in Australia has its own laws regarding pool fencing, so homeowners are advised to check with their local SPASA (Swimming Pool and Spa Association) or local council.