Summer is just around the corner, meaning warmer weather and more water fun for children. However, as much as kiwis love to be in and around water, this does increase the risk of water-related incidents.
Drowning is a leading cause of child deaths in New Zealand, so to ensure you all have a safe and happy summer, Plunket and Auckland Council have partnered together to offer subsidised half price pre-school swimming lessons for Auckland-based Plunket clients. Half price lessons are offered off- peak from Monday – Friday between 9am and 3pm, and are broader than simply teaching tamariki how to swim, with lessons including techniques on how to be safe in and around water.
Plunket has created a few handy water safety tips for New Zealand families to say safe this summer.
Whilst enjoying the outdoors this summer, remember a child can drown in just 4cm of water, which is just the length of your little finger, and it takes less than two minutes to happen. As soon as your child is old enough to understand, teach them to be with grown-ups when near water and that while water can be enjoyed, it must also be respected.
Your child should have constant active adult supervision whether they’re in a bath, swimming pool, paddling pool, spa pool, lake, sea, or river. Never rely on older children for supervision as they can easily be distracted, and it’s important to put away your phone to ensure your little ones have your full focus. Keep babies and toddlers within arm’s reach around water, and although flotation aids are a fun addition, never rely on flotation rings or armbands to keep your tamariki safe, as they may become loose or there may be strong currents or rips, especially in rivers, lakes, or seas.
If you’re spending time at a swimming pool, or you have one at home, ensure the pool is fenced and complies with legal requirements, making sure safety latches are working correctly and that gates are never blocked open. As soon as you’ve finished using a bath, paddling pool, or container, take the risk away by emptying them immediately, and check your house and garden for anything that collects water and turn it upside down so water can’t pool.
It’s great to have some preventative plans in place to keep your little ones safe. On a boat, life jackets must be worn always, fit snugly and have a crotch strap. Also consider teaching your child to wear a life jacket whenever they’re around water. For extra safety in the bath or shower, use a non-slip bathmat.
Most importantly, enjoy spending time with your tamariki to have positive early experiences around water this summer. Take children to the pool for a splash around and help them to learn to enjoy and respect water from an early age, so they can learn essential skills to keep them safe in water for life.
For more information, check out half price swimming lessons for Plunket kids on the Auckland Council Pools & Leisure website.