As Melbournians emerge from the bleakness of winter and stage 4 restrictions, it is now time to enjoy long, sun-drenched summer days and our new-found freedom! Time spent in the water will restore our minds, bodies and souls, which have all taken a hit throughout the many months of lockdown.
It’s important to remember that most children in Melbourne haven’t attended swimming lessons since the end of March! And as we know, swimming lessons are essential, particularly for those under 5 years of age, to teach water safety, as well as to increase their familiarity and confidence around water.
According to the Royal Life Saving Society of Australia’s National Drowning Report, in 2019/20 drowning continued to be one of the leading causes of accidental death for Australian children under 5 years of age, with 50% of those drownings occurring in swimming pools.
Drowning is silent. It can happen in a small body of water, in less than a minute, and given our children’s forced hiatus from swimming lessons this year it is now, more than ever, we need to be vigilant about pool and water safety.
4 water safety rules to remember:
CONSTANT ACTIVE SUPERVISION
Never take your eyes off children in, on or around water. Don’t be distracted by a book or your phone, and don’t leave older children in charge of supervision. Children under the age of 5 should be within arm’s reach of an adult at all times, regardless of how capable they are in the water.
RESTRICT ACCESS TO WATER
Private pools or spas must be fully fenced and have no items nearby that can by pushed up to use for climbing (i.e. plant pots, benches, chairs. In Victoria, new pool and spa fence laws require pool owners to register their pool or spa with their local council as well as lodge an inspection compliance certificate.
LEARN FIRST AID AND RESUSCITATION
All pool owners, parents or carers should complete a first aid course to learn infant and child CPR in case of an emergency.
INCREASE WATER AWARENESS
Swimming and water safety lessons are recommended for all children. COVID-19 saw lessons put on hold this year, however you can build your child’s familiarity and assurance around water through aquatic play, bathtime, setting rules and discussing water safety in a variety of locations (public and private pools, rivers, oceans, lakes etc).
Pool toys and swim aides can help with your child’s aquatic play and confidence building in the water, but should not be used in place of supervision and should therefore be put away after use so they don’t attract attention or entice children into the pool area unsupervised.
Remain vigilant with children around the water, be present and stay proactive with their water education. Let’s enjoy a fantastic, fun-filled summer, safely!