Water safety education should start early and is ongoing.
One of the things I have missed most over the past 12 months during the Covid pandemic were the mornings I used to regularly spend at schools and day care centres, pre-schools, community groups and primary schools to talk about water safety.
Thankfully we have recently resumed visits, and the children are more enthusiastic than ever to learn to water safety rules and meet our mascot, Paddles the Platypus!
Children of this age learn well through fun and play, so we teach the water safety rules with stories, songs, cartoons, movement and CPR practise.
Education should ideally start very early, at home, with parents consistently talking to children about the water safety rules – never go near the pool without an adult, never climb the pool fence, shut the gate, never swim alone, let an adult know if another child goes near the pool alone, swim between the flags at the beach, reach to rescue, be careful in the bath, no breath holding games or challenges underwater, etc. Present your child with scenarios to make sure they understand the most important rules, such as “what do you do when the ball goes over the fence into the pool”? The answers can be surprising, and helps to correctly gauge your child’s level of water safety awareness. Its also amazing how many parents get ‘dobbed on’ by their parents for leaving the bathroom or for being more interested in their phone poolside than watching the kids!
We can also educate by being a good role model – stay with children as they bath and explain why you are doing so. Put the mobile phone down when supervising children in the pool or at the beach or river. Get in the pool and show them how much fun can be had swimming together. Be sun smart and put sunscreen on yourself too. Empty esky’s, buckets and baths after use and tell children why it is important to do so. If you don’t know how to swim, or have a fear of the water, be sure not to pass that on to your children – it is never too late to learn.
If you would like myself and Super Paddles to come and visit your child’s school or daycare centre to teach the Kids Alive, Do The 5 safety messages, just contact me! For both primary and high school groups we also provide intensive Learn To Swim programs within school hours by arrangement, and can do so all year round due to our indoor heated pools. We also have the option to provide both practical and theory based water safety courses for children, and facilitate Royal Lifesaving Australia awards, ie Bronze Medallion, for groups of students. We even work with preschools & childcare centres to deliver swimming lessons during the time the children are in their care, to free up parents’ weekends.
Many factors play an integral part in keeping our kids safe around the water, however early swimming lessons and ongoing education are vitally important. Education is key and anything is possible – just ask us how.