Advice Column, Toddler, Toptots

Be water wise to ensure the safety of our children

It’s summer and we all love to splash around in water to cool down.  However sometimes water fun comes at a high price.  Did you know that accidental drowning is the leading cause of deaths in children between the ages of 1 – 4 years of age?  Most accidents happen at home in our own backyard pools but containers or buckets of water can also be a drowning hazard – it only takes 30 seconds and about 5cms of water for a child to drown.  It is so important to be aware as a parent and caregiver of any water dangers around your home in order to safeguard the safety of your child or children.

So how do you become aware of water hazards in and around your home or anywhere for that matter?  Here are a few pointers to take note of.

  • Watch your child at all times around water – don’t become distracted for even a second!  If your phone rings – let it ring.  Toddlers are curious by nature and will wander off and out of sight in the blink of an eye.
  • Install a pool safety net on your pool and ensure that all gates leading to the garden pool are locked securely.  Outdoor patios that lead onto the pool area need to have a locked security gate on the doors.  Don’t forget to safe guard garden ponds and spas as well.
  • Teach your child to swim as soon as possible – they need to learn about the dangers of water.  Speak to your local swim school as to the age they enrol children into their classes. They will consider their age, development and how often they are around water.
  • Never think that water wings, pool noodles or any other  flotation device will keep your child safe whilst they are in the water – you still need to be there watching them. These devices were not made to be life preservers.
  • Don’t leave your toddler with an older sibling, even if they know how to swim.  Accidents happen quickly and it’s unfair for an older child to take responsibility for his younger brother or sister.
  • After a day’s swimming empty all paddling pools and swim toys and store away.  We often have summer storms at night and these can fill up with rain water causing a water hazard in your home.
  • Be vigilant at the beach – currents can take a young child playing at the water’s edge very easily.
  • When we go through a drought, we all try to catch as much rain water as possible – buckets left outside unattended are a huge drowning hazard for the young toddler.
  • Never leave a child unattended in the bath, make sure you have everything on hand before filling the bath. After bath time – empty the bath.  Your child may wander through a little later and reach for a toy floating in the bath water and accidently fall in.  Children less than 1 year old are more likely to drown at home in the bathroom or a bucket.  
  • Close the lids on all toilets and purchase toilet seat locks and keep the doors to the bathrooms closed shut.  Don’t keep buckets of water behind the toilet to fill up the cistern – rather store the water in a large water bottle with the lid securely closed.
  • Learn CPR – this can save lives!  Enrol yourself and your child’s caregiver into an accredited CPR course.  You can contact any one of our Toptots branches as most of them offer CPR courses throughout the year or will know of an accredited instructor in their area.  Knowing what to do during an emergency could save a child’s life whilst you are waiting for the ambulance services to arrive.  
  • Save this list of numbers of EMS (Emergency Medical Services) providers on yours and your caregiver’s phone, they will dispatch qualified staff to assist you during an emergency and tell you what to do while you wait for the emergency services.
    • Netcare 911 (082 911)
    • ER24 (084 124)
    • Vodacom Emergency (082 112)
    • MTN Emergency (083 112)
    • Cell C Emergency (084 112)

Remember water fun is great play but safety must come first.

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