How to teach your children about water safety?

We live in a lucky country, where summer is long and provides many opportunities to have fun in and around the water. However, despite the water safety campaigns and initiatives in existence, drowning remains the single greatest cause of accidental death of children under 5 in Australia, and last weekend saw 3 people in NSW drown, including a seven year old boy at Jellybean Pool. Our thoughts are with the families involved.
Accidents happen and children can never be 100% safe around water. With the weather heating up, one of the best things a parent can do to keep their child safer around water is to teach them about water safety as soon as possible, with early swimming lessons and education. Did you know that 55% of Australian children are not in swimming lessons, and 59% of parents admit they only have basic or deficient swimming skills themselves?
Former Australian swimming coach Laurie Lawrence is a well-respected water safety ambassador since launching his ‘Kids Alive – Do the Five’ community service program in 1988. The program aims to educate the public on five important steps to reduce the risk of childhood drowning – but can you name the five, and are you practising them? They are:
1. Fence the pool
2. Shut the gate
3. Teach your kids to swim – “it’s great”
4. Supervise – “watch your mate” and
5. Learn how to resuscitate
Education should start very early, with parents consistently talking to children and reinforcing these rules around water – never go near the pool without an adult, never climb the pool fence, let an adult know if another child goes near the pool alone, swim between the flags at the beach, be careful in the bath, etc. There are some great swim safety education resources, songs, and stories available through the ‘Kids Alive, Do The 5’ website ( to keep learning fun and promote retention, especially for younger children.
We also provide free Water Safety Visits to pre-schools and childcare centres, where we read books and sing songs about water safety with our mascot, Paddles the Platypus, and the Kids Alive Wise Owl. If you would like us to come and visit your child’s centre, just contact me! Above all, get swimming – as soon as and as often as you can.