Planning on going on holiday this summer? If so, remember that despite the temptation to completely switch off, it’s not all about sun, sea and relaxation. New research has revealed that during peak holiday season, millions of children are in danger due to lack of water safety awareness and poor swimming skills.
With drowning the third highest cause of accidental death in children (we were shocked by this!) and in light of Drowning Prevention Week (21 – 29 June), Water Babies commissioned a study of 2,000 families’ swimming habits to help encourage water safety while on holiday.
The research revealed that more than half of parents say they are worried their children would be unable to save themselves if they were to run into trouble in the water. And 44% say they don’t believe that they could save their child due to their own lack of swimming skills.
If you’ve ever experienced the moment of terror when you realise your child is nowhere to be seen, you are not alone! In fact, half of parents surveyed admit they have lost sight of their child for long enough during a holiday to cause panic. The first and the last hour at a resort is when the majority of holiday accidents occur as parents are most likely to be distracted, so be sure to stay alert at all times.
Paul Thompson, Water Babies co-founder, says: “It’s vital to encourage children to respect water from as early an age as possible. Our research showed that the average age children start swimming lessons is four years old and yet 40% of children haven’t had a lesson by the age of 12. But swimming lessons can actually take place from birth, in fact our youngest pupil was only two days old!
“We believe that by introducing children to the water as early as possible, they are less likely to experience fear if they fall into water. With progressive training, babies can be taught lifesaving skills and over the last few years a dozen of our pupils have saved themselves from drowning, some of whom were just two years old.”
To download the host of Drowning Prevention Week resources produced by the RLSS, visit www.drowningpreventionweek.org.uk.
Actively supervise young children around water
Be safety conscious at the poolside
Flotation devices are not life preservers
Do not swim at beaches with large waves, a powerful undertow or no lifeguards
FIVE QUICK TIPS FOR CHILDREN
Never swim alone
Never push or jump either in or around water – it might result in injury
Never dive into water unless an adult has already tested the depth and checked for underwater hazards
Before you swim, always ask what to do in an emergency and where to get help
Always wait an hour after a meal before swimming