Drowning is a leading cause of death for tamariki in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is a tragedy that lives are lost every year in and around our moana, rivers and lakes. . As a nation surrounded by the sea, our tamariki should learn to love the water while also staying safe. This article will provide you with tips to keep our children safer around water.
Supervision is one of the most crucial aspects of water safety for protecting tamariki. Always keep children within arm’s reach when they are in and around water. Never leave children, especially those under five years, unsupervised around any body of water. Even during bath time, never take your eyes away. If you need to leave the bathtub, take your child with you to avoid any potential risks.
Teaching children to swim
Teaching our tamariki to kaukau, or swim, ensures they have a valuable life skill and fosters confidence and a love for the water.
Enrolling your children in swimming lessons offers a safe opportunity for them to learn these essential skills. Swimming lessons cater to all age groups and skill levels, ensuring that every child can develop the confidence they need to stay safe around water.
Water safety education should be a major aspect of teaching children about water.
This includes the importance of supervision, basic rules around bodies of water, and teaching them to watch for hazards. This empowers tamariki to make informed decisions and respond effectively to potential dangers.
Water safety around pools
Pools are common features in many Kiwi households, and ensuring pool safety is paramount. Never allow children to swim alone or without proper supervision. If you have a pool on your property, you must have adequate fencing and a secure gate to protect your family and friends. We also recommend you discourage running around pool areas to avoid slip-and-fall accidents that can lead to serious injuries.
Tips for water safety in the ocean
When swimming or playing by the shore, never allow children to venture into the water alone. It’s important to be aware of the waves, winds, and tides. If you don’t feel confident, don’t get in the water.
Lifeguards play a critical role in ensuring ocean safety, and swimming between the red and yellow flags, when available, is advised. These designated areas indicate the safest spots for swimming, under the watchful eyes of trained professionals. If you feel as though you are in trouble, stay calm and raise your hand. This will signal to the lifeguard you need help.
And lastly, when swimming at the beach, watch out for rips. A rip is a strong water current that pulls deep out to sea. Rips can be very dangerous as they can sweep swimmers deep out to sea very quickly.
Learning to recognise rip currents is incredibly important to swim safely in the ocean. Rip currents are usually calm patches of water, that can appear darker in colour, and with waves breaking on either side.
If you get caught in a rip it is important to stay calm. Surf Lifesaving NZ teaches the three R’s to rip survival. Relax and float on your back to save energy. Raise your hand to alert the lifeguards you need help. Ride the rip until it subsides, and then swim parallel to the shore to escape its pull or wait for help.
Swimming against the rip current is too difficult and will tire you out. If you are trying to swim out, instead swim out of the rip along the coast instead of trying to go back into shore.