On average 40 to 50 children drown per year in the UK, around 85% of accidental drownings occur at open water sites. Many of these accidents occur due to lack of knowledge and understanding of open water safety, basic open water knowledge and understanding of the hazards can significantly reduce the number of incidents that occur each year.
During the school holidays when the hot weather arrives in the UK increasing numbers of children put themselves at risk of drowning.
To keep yourself SAFE when you are in, on or beside water always follow the water safety code! (rlss.org.uk/the-water-safety-code) STOP AND THINK, look for dangers and always read the signs. STAY TOGETHER, never swim alone.
As a parent/guardian you want to do everything you can to make sure your child is safe around open water, pools, rivers and lakes. Drownings are often quick and silent and quite opposite to how you may betray them. There are minimal signals that someone is drowning and it is never as easy as jumping in a saving someone as you may think. Therefore the greatest way to do this is preventing drowning risk in the first place.
Simple safety steps can save lives, parents and kids should take action to do the following to help prevent downing.
Designated water watcher:
This can be a parent/guardian or a Pool lifeguard but children should always be supervised when around water to keep them as safe as possible. Designate a water watcher who’s job is to ensure the children are as safe as possible when around a pool, beach or open water. It is important that they have full concentration and are not distracted by outside influences i.e phone/other people.
Teach your children to swim:
Supervision is critical but its also important for children to learn how to swim. Children who cant swim face much higher risk of drowning, even if its home schooling by introducing your child to water in a learner pool. But I would defiantly recommend signing your child up to swimming lessons. We have a range of different swimming lesson providers which means we are able to offer swimming lessons for all ages and abilities, you can view them here ohlc.co.uk/swimminglessons.html.
While your child is learning to swim why not learn something new, CPR can be critical and very important to learn in case of an emergency. By stander can make a real difference while waiting for the emergency services as “a 2015 study of more than 4,000 people in Denmark, published May 12, 2015, in Circulation, found that more than 75% of people who survived a cardiac arrest that occurred outside a hospital were able to return to work in about four months. Those who received CPR from a bystander were nearly 40% more likely go back to work, compared with survivors who didn’t get CPR.”
Check drain covers:
Whether at a local swimming pool or home pool be sure that drain covers are not loose or broken, drains should meet safety standards and be VGB compliant. If, make sure you report it.
Open water safety tips
Open water swimming takes places in such outdoor water such as lakes, rivers, canals, reservoirs and quarries. However water is very hazardous by nature and the greatest of care must always be taken when being near water margins.
The RLSS (Royal Life Saving Society UK) provide the following on open water tips:
The conditions at open water sites change constantly:
- Always look for warning and guidance signs
- Swim parallel with the shore, not away from it
- Avoid drifting in the currents
- Do not enter fast flowing water
- Be aware of underwater hazards
- Get out of the water as soon as you start to feel cold
- Never enter the water after consuming alcohol
- Only enter the water in areas with adequate supervision and rescue cover
- Always wear a buoyancy aid or life-jacket for activities on the water or at the water’s edge (such as when boating or fishing)
- Always take someone with you when you go into or near water. If something goes wrong they will be able to get help
- If someone is in difficulty in the water shout reassurance to them and shout for help and call the emergency services (call 999 or 112)
- Without endangering yourself see if you can reach out to them with a stick, pole or item of clothing – lie down to ensure you stay secure. Alternatively throw something buoyant to them such as a ring buoy or anything that will float.
Additional water safety advice can be found on the RLSS website rlss.org.uk/dos-dont-and-the-dangers-of-open-water.
Drowning Prevention Week:
Between the 14th-24th June 2019 OHLC will be supporting the RLSS campaign Drowning Prevention week. This campaign aims to reduce the number of drowning and non- fatal drowning incidents that occur in the UK every year, by showing people how to be safe and have fun near water.
The main objectives of this is to increase the number of children receiving water safety education, reduce the number of drowning incidents and promote local and national drowning prevention projects and initiatives.
During this week at OHLC we have a range of activities, fun ideas and challenges that you and your friends and family can get involved with which will help raise awareness of water safety. A stall and fund raiser will be set up in the reception area and your involvement could make a real difference.
Respect the water:
Respect the water is the RLNI (Royal National Lifeboat Institute) national drowning prevention campaign, which highlights the risks and helps you avoid them. The campaign is aimed at promoting water safety advice to all who will visit the coast. It is their goal to halve the number of accidental coastal deaths by 2024. Additional information can be found on their website rnli.org/safety/respect-the-water.
Swim safes aim is for children to enjoy a fun, structured swimming session at a choice of open water locations which will enable them to learn about how to stay safe in water and what to do if something goes wrong.
Swim England and the RNLI work closely with Swim Wales and a range of local delivery partners to make Swim Safe available to as many children as possible, whether they live by the coast, inland and in our cities. Since launching with a single site in 2013, Swim Safe has grown to include more than 30 sites across England, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Additional information on how you can get involved can be found at swimsafe.org.uk/.