This week is Drowning Prevention Week, a national campaign by the Royal Life Saving Society UK to promote water safety. We take a look at the things you can do to keep your family and yourself safe in the water this summer.
Learning to swim
The most important aspect of keeping safe in the water is the ability to swim. One in five adults in the UK can’t swim and the number of adults choosing to swim in their spare time to keep their swimming skills is in decline. Swimming is one of the most important life skills, an essential one that you can pass on to your children. Here’s some tips about how to teach your child the basics of swimming.
If you’re interested in paying for swimming lessons for your child then contact the nearest local authority leisure centre for further details. You can also contact them to find out about the free swim initiative for under 16’s in Wales. This is a Welsh Government initiative that provides a minimum of 14 hours of free swimming per week during school holidays, and two hours on a weekend.
The most important thing is to have fun in the water! There are lots of games you can play with your children to get them used to the water. Change4life have some fantastic family games that you can play in the water to encourage your children to be active, such as underwater humming, fishy in the middle and starfish tag.
Know the SAFE code
Ensure that you and your family are aware of the SAFE code
- Spot: Spot the dangers
- Advice: Take advice, read the signs and listen to the safety advice
- Friends: Stay with your friend or family member at all times, don’t swim alone
- Emergency: Know what to do in an emergency, shout for help and call 999 or 112
Water safety at home
There are lots of things around the home that could be dangerous if you’re not aware of them. Here’s some advice.
- Always supervise when children are in or near water such as paddling pools or ponds etc.
- Use gates that close themselves, fences and locks to prevent children from getting access to pools and ponds.
- Make sure that all tanks and drains that store water have been covered securely.
- Empty paddling pools and buckets as soon as they’ve been used. Turn paddling pools upside down once finished to make sure it stays empty.
- Always supervise at bath time (never leave children unattended). Empty the bath as soon as possible after using it.
- Vulnerable adults and individuals, and those who suffer with fits should consider using showers rather than a bath.
Keeping safe while swimming or on holiday
Lots of us will be going down to the beach over the summer holidays, or going abroad on holiday where the children love spending hours in the pool. It’s easy to relax in these circumstances but with crowds of people and open spaces it’s even harder to keep an eye on the safety of the children at these times.
- When researching holidays, or as soon as you arrive on holiday, look at the safety arrangements of any water activities – are there lifeguards?
- Look for any dangers, find the safest places to swim, always read the signs (as well as learn what local warning signs and banners mean)
- Make sure that the whole family can swim
- Swim with children – it’s more fun and you can keep close and safe
- Never swim on your own
- Follow the pool rules
- Check out the depth, the flow of water and the design of the pools
- Never go into the water after drinking alcohol
- On beaches, be careful if the tide is high and low and ensure that you are not cut off from the beach with rising tides. Be aware of dangerous rip currents
- Don’t use dinghies, lilos or water toys in open water
- Don’t swim close or dive off any rocks, piers, sea walls or corals
- Swim parallel to the beach and close to the shore
Visit Wales has 10 spots around the country that are great for wild swimming. While these places are free to swim, please read up on swimming safely with the Wild Swimming Code by Natural Resources Wales as well as information on wildswimming.co.uk and nationalwatersafety.org.uk before tipping your toe in.
So go ahead, stay safe and have a splashing great time this summer!
If you feel you need to talk to someone about any problems your family is having then call our advisors on the FamilyPoint Cymru helpline. The helpline is open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. They can help you to find organisations that can help.