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Keeping water safe over summer

Summer is fast approaching, and we know that the warmer weather means little sandy toes, lots of sunscreen and trips to the beach, pool and river.

While summer is a great time of year to get out and about, Parents Centre Aotearoa and our partner SplashSave want to ensure everyone comes home safely.

Here are some simple things to do this summer to be water smart and make sure everyone has a safe summer around the water.

Supervise
Always supervise your child when they’re around water. Designate someone to be your ‘water watcher’ to ensure your little ones can play safely – this includes in the paddling pool at home. Having someone constantly watching the children when they are in, on or around the water will massively decrease the chances of tragedy happening. Never leave children alone around the water – they are inquisitive and will want to explore the big blue shiny stuff.

Teach your child the basics of swimming and water safety
Teaching your child safety around the water enables them and you to enjoy the summer and the water even more. There are various options available including your local swim school or doing it yourself. To get in touch with your local swim school, google ‘swimming lessons’ or ‘swimming and water safety’ to find your local provider. We suggest you do some research on the programmes available to decide what is best for you, your budget and most importantly your child.

Choose safe places to swim
When you’re heading to the beach, always try to find one that has lifeguards on duty. This will be clear through signs at the beach, the Surf Life Saving yellow and red flags, and the sight of a lifeguard patrolling the beach. The lifeguards place the flags at the safest place to swim, leading to a better experience for everyone. If you’re swimming at the river, ensure you know the depth, the speed of the current, what is upstream and what is downstream from you before entering the water.

Look at the weather before heading out on the water
Conditions in New Zealand change quickly and even though the sun may be out, this can quickly change to bad weather conditions. Knowing the forecast can reduce your risk of being caught in bad weather while out on the water. A lot of accidents happen because people are unprepared for the weather they encounter. Always wear a lifejacket when you’re out on a boat and have a minimum of two communication devices. A lifejacket reduces your chance of drowning by 100%. But a lifejacket is only effective if it is worn properly while you’re out on the water – it is no good just having one on the boat. You must also ensure that lifejackets fit children correctly. A simple way to do this is to put the lifejacket on them and pull it up by the shoulders. If the lifejacket lifts above their ears, it is too big and needs to be changed for a smaller one before heading out.

It is highly recommended that you participate in a day skipper course to help you understand the risks, dangers and safe practices involved in boating – these courses are available around the country. It is not as simple as just getting into a boat and heading out. The more educated you are in safe boating practices, the less likely it is that you’ll need to be rescued or that you’ll become another statistic.

SplashSave is a partner of Parents Centre Aotearoa and provides all the tools you need to teach your child the basic skills that could save their life. The SplashSave Pack includes a fully illustrated book, poolside sheets and certificates. Visit www.splashsave.org and enter our discount code PCNZ to receive 43% off the pack price. When you purchase a SplashSave parent pack, 20% of the purchase price goes to charity to deliver the programme for free in those communities most in need.

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