Splashing and swimming in a pool is a great way for families to bond and make the most of the sizzling summer weather, but it’s important not to let the fun overshadow important water safety.
According to Statistics South Africa, fatal drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional death in the country.
In South Africa, drowning rates are highest among children between 0-4 years followed by 5-14 years. In the Western Cape, 1473 fatal drowning incidents were reported between 2010 and mid-2017 (Statistics South Africa, 2017).
Children under the age of 15 years old account for 30.2% of all fatal drowning in the country with the highest mortality rate occurring in children under the age of 5 years old.
As temperatures heat up, remember to pay attention to these couple of steps while spending time in and around water.
- Never leave children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment.
- Make sure adults watching young children in the pool know CPR and can rescue a child if necessary. It’s a good idea to take a class in CPR yourself too.
- Surround your pool on all sides – with a sturdy 1.5m fence.
- Make sure you pool area gates self-close and self-latch at a height children can’t reach.
- Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd’s hook – a long pole with a hook on the end) and a phone near the pool.
- Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties”. They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children a false sense of security. Rather teach them how to swim and float on their back. Baby swimming classes can save your little ones life.
- Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision.”
- It might seem like an obvious one, but don’t swim when you have diarrhea. This is especially important for children and infants in nappies. Germs can spread in the water and make other people sick.
- Don’t swallow pool water and try to avoid getting any pool water in your mouth.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet or changing diapers. You can protect others by being aware that germs on your body end up in the water.
- Children’s hair, limbs, jewelry or bathing suits can get stuck in drain or suction openings, so it is important to teach children not to play or swim near the pool drains.
The ultimate way to spend those warm dog days of summer is splashing in a pool with your kids. Whether you’re at home, a friend’s house or at the beach, swimming is so much fun! Be safe and prepared.