Swimming safely through summer
Between them the kids have water wings, an inflatable tube and a lilo. Now you can find a spot on the beach to sit down and read your book. Right?…Wrong.
While you are finding out what Bella tells Jacob when they meet in the forest, little Billy’s water wings have burst, Susie has fallen off her lilo and is out of her depth, and Frank is caught in a rip being pulled out to sea in his inflatable tube.
Your children need to be supervised in water whether they have water toys or not.
Use the product for what it is meant for Some water toys are designed to be used in swimming pools only and are completely unsuitable in a river, lake or in the sea. But wherever you are you need to supervise your kids. Floating toys and safety gear are not the same thing.
There are no water toys that are safe enough for you to leave a small child in. Children under five years old are the most at risk of drowning so keep them within arms reach at all times. Older children should also be supervised by a confident adult swimmer. Don’t leave this solely up to the lifeguards.
Check for warning labels
Water toys should have warnings to say they are not life-saving devices. This is not a mandatory standard so you may find toys in the shops that don’t have this warning. This doesn’t mean that they are safe to use.
Looking after water toys
If you are hauling out last years toys ready for this summer check that the toys aren’t leaky and check for wear and tear. Leaving the toys in the sun can also damage the materials and can increase the air pressure inside the toys, which puts pressure on the seams.
In deep water You’ll need proper life-saving equipment when you are out in deep water. Different styles are available for different activities. They are most useful if you and your kids actually wear them. While having a buoyancy aid is vital, it is also important to have the right type. Talk to your supplier or contact Water Safety New Zealand, Maritime NZ or the Coastguard for expert advice.
Advice from Water Safety New Zealand includes:
- stay within sight and reach of your child
- maintain hand contact with infants when in, on and around water
- always drain the paddling pool and turn it over after use
- at least one experienced adult swimmer should actively supervise children.