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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 20 May, 2019
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A child can drown in seconds in as little as an inch of water

Tips to ensure your children stay safe near water this summer.

Image: Water baby via Shutterstock

SUMMER IS HERE, well, it was at the weekend anyway, so that means families across Ireland are looking forward to trips to the beach and summer holidays in the sun with their children.

But sometimes the combination of water and children during the holiday season can be a potentially dangerous mix.

A child can drown in as little as an inch of water and in less time than it takes to answer the telephone. In many cases, drowning is down to the initial shock of falling into water as kids become paralysed with fear.

Therese McNally who runs Water Babies classes said parents get lured into a false sense of security while on holiday:

Everyone looks forward to getting away, letting our hair down and giving children the freedom to splash about. But parents tend to relax and gain a false sense of security for children in a holiday setting, when in fact they should be even more attentive than usual.

Here are Water Babies’ top tips for pool side safety this summer and all through the year:

Actively supervise young children around water

  • Parents must keep an eye on their children at all times – they can be easily distracted chatting to other parents, reading a newspaper or talking on the phone.
  • Supervising adults should be in arms reach of children under five so that if a child slips underwater, they can be pulled to safety immediately
  • The adult watching must be able to swim and not afraid to jump in the water.
  • If leaving, even momentarily, take your child or designate a known adult to supervise – never leave an older sibling in charge.

Be safety conscious at the poolside

  • Make sure there is a qualified lifeguard in attendance before you or your children enter a public swimming pool.
  • Check where the rescue equipment and lifeguards are.
  • Do not swim in a swimming pool which has cloudy pool water or where you can’t see the pool bottom
  • Save the local emergency numbers on your mobile phone.

Flotation devices are not life preservers

  • They do not replace supervision and must fit properly.
  • Toys and inflatables are often unstable and therefore a hazard.
  • Arm bands or floats should carry an approved standards emblem.
  • Do not swim at beaches with large waves, a powerful undercurrent or no lifeguards
  • Find out where the lifeguards are and learn water symbols and flags indicating current beach conditions. Follow their advice.

Stay sober

  • Drinking can impair your supervision and swimming skills – especially when combined with the midday heat.
  • Learn CPR.
  • Seconds count in preventing death or brain damage.

Teach your children these water safety rules:

  • Never swim alone.
  • Do not push or jump onto others or participate in any dangerous behaviour in a swimming pool – ie horseplay, wrestling, running, jumping and dive bombing – it might result in injury.
  • Do not dive into water unless someone has already tested the depth and checked for underwater hazards. Diving into insufficient water depths can cause face, head and spinal injuries and even death.
  • Know what to do in an emergency and where to get help.

Read: Irish beaches slightly less clean in 2012 than previous year>

More: Man dies of suspected drowning off Wexford coast>

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About the author:

Amy Croffey

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