Why focus Spring Safety on water safety?
Did you know that babies can drown in water only 3cms deep? That’s the diameter of a £2 coin. And they drown without making a noise! It’s facts like this that need highlighting as children under the age of 5 continue to have accidents around the home.
If a child in your care is near water, or in it, constant supervision is key as children have drowned in seconds while the adult is distracted by a phone or grabbing a towel. It’s why we urge parents or carers to have everything they need near the place they choose to bath the little one.
Drowning, statistically, is one of the least frequent causes for a child under the age of 5 to be admitted to A&E. But it does have one of the highest rates of death. For every 9 children that are rushed to hospital after getting into difficulty in water, one sadly dies. But there is hope that this can be improved upon. Statistics released just this month show that things have improved.
A study from 2008-2012 showed that 1 in 8 children admitted to hospital following a drowning incident died. The new statistics (2012-2016) show a slight improvement as it’s now 1 in 9, but we still strongly believe that more improvements can be made. It’s why we chose the risk of drowning to be the focus of our Spring Safety campaign for 2018.
In The Home
Water is fascinating for young children and a great source of fun and exercise – but is also a major danger if an under 5 is left to play in it, or near it, unsupervised. Did you know that 19 children aged 0-4 died as a result of drowning in the bath tub between 2012-2016? This is by large the biggest threat to your child’s well-being in the home. But it doesn’t have to be this way. As we highlighted above, babies drown silently and can get into trouble in water just 3cms deep. But all these risks can be avoided by taking one simple action – supervision. Any parent or carer of a child under the age of 5 should always supervise them when they are in or near water. Ignore a ringing phone, don’t answer the door. Make the child’s safety your number one priority.
Also, don’t be tempted to sit them in a bath seat or something else submerged under the water as your child can easily slip or fall into the water and would not be able to lift itself up. Bath seats can be a great help, but they are not a safety aid and babies can wriggle out of them. Never leave your baby alone – not even for a few seconds. Once you have finished with the bathwater, pull the plug straightaway.
Begin teaching your child about the dangers of water around the home – like how ponds and swimming pools are a drowning hazard for them. As they get older they’ll no doubt want to play more during bath time, which is absolutely fine. But you could consider getting a non-slip mat to help keep your slippery child safe when they are in the bath and help them avoid a nasty fall.
Outside The Home
Just like inside the home, supervision is important when your child is playing outside as well – like in the garden. This is especially true if you have set up a paddling pool or have a garden pond or water feature.
Remember that smaller children, like babies, can drown silently in water just 3cms deep. Slightly older children, that are crawling or just learning to walk could also get into difficulty in water if left unattended. Always stay in arms reach if they are playing in water, like a paddling pool, and empty it once they are finished. When a child can understand more about safety, be sure to teach them about the hazards around them.
A garden pond can be educational, but is also a danger if not securely fenced off to ensure your little one can’t fall in. You may even choose to fill the pond in.
Finally, if you are visiting the homes of other people, like friends or family, consider what water hazards may be in their gardens and be alert to the potential dangers.
Rivers, Lakes and the Sea
The advice for you and your under 5s, if passing near rivers and lakes, is never swim in these. Currents in rivers can be too strong and can cause you or your child to struggle to stay afloat. Again supervision is important when your child is near any source of water. Thanks to the RNLI, for supporting our #SpringSafety messaging, we have a great video highlighting the risk of Rip Tides over at our Facebook page www.facebook.com/buywisebesafe
In the UK, the majority of RNLI Lifeguard incidents involve rip currents. They are a major cause of accidental drowning on beaches all across the world. Rips are strong currents running out to sea, which can quickly drag people and debris away from the shallows of the shoreline and out to deeper water. They tend to flow at 1–2mph but can reach 4–5mph, which is faster than an Olympic swimmer. Rips are especially powerful in larger surf, but never underestimate the power of any water. They are also found around river mouths, estuaries and man-made structures like piers and groynes.
How to spot and avoid a rip current
Rip currents can be difficult to spot, but are sometimes identified by a channel of churning, choppy water on the sea’s surface. Even the most experienced beachgoers can be caught out by rips, so don’t be afraid to ask lifeguards for advice. They will show you how you can identify and avoid rips. The best way to avoid rips is to choose a lifeguarded beach and always swim between the red and yellow flags, which have been marked based on where is safer to swim in the current conditions. This also helps you to be spotted more easily, should something go wrong.
- If you do find yourself caught in a rip: – Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted. – If you can stand, wade don’t swim. – If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore. – Always raise your hand and shout for help.
- If you see anyone else in trouble, alert the lifeguards or call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.
- If you are paddling with your child in the sea, be aware of the RNLI’s advice. Make yours and your child’s safety your number one choice!
Here’s another video from the RNLI about the importance of safety when visiting the beach, with some handy messages – https://www.facebook.com/rnli/videos/10155785241308999/
Finally, as a reminder of all the information we have provided you with during the #SpringSafety campaign, click the following link where all the advice has been provided in a handy infographic!