Learning to swim is a key life-saving skill which protects the lives of thousands of people every year. But sadly drowning is the second leading cause of death in children under four in Ireland.
This is why we teach your children essential life saving skills in their classes with us, growing their confidence and competence in the water as they develop.
Below we've listed some of the most important ways that you can enjoy the water safely this summer.
Safeguarding your babies and children from poolside to beach this holiday season with Aquatics Director at Water Babies, Hannah Smith
With the summer holidays fast approaching, Water Babies, the world’s largest baby swim school, shares eight tips on how best to ensure water safety for babies and children. Whether you are setting up a paddling pool in your garden, planning a family day out at the beach, or a fun trip to the swimming pool, Water Babies has water safety covered for parents.
Fear of the water is a learnt behaviour, so it is important to get your little ones accustomed to the water at a young age, and show them how to respond to this environment in a safe way.
It’s really important not to pass on your own fears of the water. At Water Babies we see babies swimming from birth and have had pupils as young as a day old in our classes, although the average starting age is between 3 to 4 months old.
Start introducing water to your baby in a fun environment by making bath time enjoyable with songs and toys. This positive association will then be transferred to the swimming pool and bigger water based environments. But it’s not just about having fun. For instance, did you know, children who take part in baby swimming reach developmental milestones such as counting to 10 much earlier than expected?
Be aware of the type of pool that your little one is swimming in and check the temperature. “This should be a minimum 30 degrees and if your baby is under 12 weeks or 12 pounds, this needs to be 32 degrees or above. Take in the wider surroundings also and check if there is a lifeguard on duty, whether there are any slippery surfaces, where the deep end of the pool is and if there are any cracked tiles; as these are all factors to consider when ensuring water safety.
There are lots of great things you can kit your baby out in – a floppy sun hat if you’re outside, a happy nappy wetsuit if you’re worried they might get a little chilly and for older toddlers, a float jacket can give them a little bit of independence (but make sure you don’t leave them unsupervised).
Always keep a watchful eye on your children, even if there is a lifeguard on duty. Lifeguards are a great additional resource but do not solely rely on this. Designate an adult who can keep an eye on the children who are both in and around the pool and always keep non-swimmers within arm’s length.
Floatation devices can be a fun experience for babies and children, however always keep in mind that these are not life preservers and even if your little one has floats, you shouldn’t take your eyes off them. As these can either float away with currents and tides, or even tip over with your little one inside.
Paddling pools are great fun in the garden on a hot summers day, but always keep water safety a priority, even if your children are in a paddling pool with just a few inches of water. Once you are finished, ensure you empty out the water and tip the paddling pool over.
At the beach, always check whether there are trained lifeguards on duty, always swim in between the designated flags (familiarise yourself with these if you’re abroad, as signage can change depending on the country) and keep in mind possible rip currents and tides.
When it comes to emergency and survival, every second counts. If you are abroad, make sure you know the emergency number and it is always advisable to have a first aid kit with you. At Water Babies, all our teachers are qualified life-savers and are trained to carry out infant resuscitation (a qualification which they renew every two years). All teachers also carry:
National Water Safety Awareness week, the national campaign run by Water Safety Ireland takes place from 14 – 20 June 2021.
The central theme for this year is ‘Better Safe, Than Sorry’ – reminding us all to take necessary care when on, near or in water.
To find out more, check out Water Safety Ireland here.