There is no playing when it comes to water safety, whether we’re there to keep an eye on our children or entrust them to the supervision of others. Water safety has been top of mind lately with the tragic death of Enock Mpianzi on a school tour and the image circulating on social media of young school children in KwaZulu-Natal crossing a swollen river.
Here are some important water-safety tips:
- Most importantly, make sure you have a net on your pool and any other water feature such as a fish pond. Preferably section it off with a fence so that the net is just an extra precaution. Ensure that the net is fitted correctly and aligns with proper safety regulations.
- It is vitally important when cleaning your home that buckets of water and toilets are never left unattended, as crawling babies and toddlers drown in buckets and toilets! Always keep an eye on your child and be sure to empty buckets and close bathroom doors or lock the toilet seat down when you’re finished.
- Make every effort to get your baby “drown proofed” by exposing them to water safety and swimming lessons from early on. Do your research and ask around to see which schools come recommended. Infant Aquatics Academy is an excellent choice.
- Not all parents or teachers have the same concerns about water safety. When your child is bigger and going to school and playdates at friends’ homes, make sure you are aware of any pools, ponds or water features that are there, and check that these are secure. When my daughter went to playschool at the age of two, the bathroom was not secure and there was a bath in the bathroom. Children have seen mommy or daddy run a bath at home, so it is very easy for a child to do so and fall in and drown – or even burn themselves with hot water.
“Don’t be afraid to be the ‘bad mom’ and refuse that your child participates in these activities (or even goes on the tour) if you’re not comfortable that sufficient safety measures have been taken.”
- If your child goes on school tours and is under the supervision of other adults such as teachers and camp facilitators, find out what precautions are in place if the children are anywhere near water. It should be a non-negotiable that children wear lifejackets during all water activities. Children can be boisterous and push each other under the water or get knocked on the head. Don’t be afraid to be the “bad mom” and refuse that your child participates in these activities (or even goes on the tour) if you’re not comfortable that sufficient safety measures have been taken.
- If you’re not around to supervise, teach your child not to jump into the water from high surfaces such as rocks or bridges before they’ve checked with someone responsible if it’s safe to do so (taking into consideration depth of water, currents, obstructions, etc.). I speak from experience, where I’ve seen people paralysed or left with brain injuries due to these types of accidents. I have an 11-year-old son who loves to jump off rocks and bridges and, while I would prefer him NEVER to do this, I understand that he is a youngster so my next best is to teach him caution and responsibility – and to always check with the supervisor first.
- Lastly, but very importantly, make sure you have done a CPR and first aid course so that if something happens under your watch, you can be quick to act.
Survival CPR runs infant and child CPR and first aid courses as well as adult courses. Two of the major topics they cover are home and school safety! Prevention comes first and then quick action with knowledge is vital! Contact them: www.survivalcpr.co.za