Summer is finally here and many across the country are starting to enjoy warmer weather and longer days. The May half term break will mean many will be looking at ways to keep their children entertained, including a cheap way to entertain them in your own garden.
Paddling pools are a great way to keep children in the great outdoors with a fun activity to keep them entertained for hours. However, what can seem like a fun activity could have devastating consequences.
According to Lois Lee, an emergency-medicine specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, young children can drown silently in as little as 25 seconds, even in a shallow pool. Durann Letter, who founded Water Watchers at Phoenix Children’s Hospital after her son Weston drowned, aged three, said “most children drown because their parents turn their head for just a second or have no idea that their child is even near the pool.”
Although splashing around in a paddling pool is a great way to keep your children cool, even two centimetres of water can pose a deadly risk to a child, warns the Royal Life Saving Society. Here’s five top tips to keep your children safe in a paddling pool this summer:
Five paddling pool safety tips
Never leave children unattended
Children of any age should not be left unsupervised when playing in a paddling pool. Drowning can be silent so it’s important to ensure your eyes are always on the children that are in the water.
Ensure that you are focused on the children and not distracted with items such as your phone or a book, as drowning can happen in under 30 seconds. It’s also important to ensure that you are alert and not inebriated by alcohol.
Remain as close to the pool as possible as drowning can happen quickly and you might have to react fast to scoop a child from the water.
Know how to react in an emergency
Learning first aid and CPR for all ages can help prevent a serious injury or death from drowning. The Royal Life Saving Society offers a free online course called Lifesafer that is designed for families to learn what to do if someone is drowning.
St John’s Ambulance also offers advice on what to do if a child is drowning. This includes vital lifesaving information, including when to call 999 and start CPR.
Supervise older children
Even older, more independent children should be supervised. Even if you feel that they may be able to swim alone or with their friends.
Teenagers, especially boys are at a higher risk of drowning due to risk “taking and thrill-seeking behaviours”. A report from National Water Safety said: “In every age group, men are the most at risk group, accounting for eight in ten of all the deaths. Fatalities rise markedly from mid to late teens and throughout the 20s; there is a distinct peak in the number of men drowning in the 20-29 year old age group.”
It is important to have a discussion about water safety with your children on a regular basis to ensure they are aware of the dangers and how to safely play in the water. Telling a child not to go near water without an adult could reinforce the message of safety to children.
The Royal Life Saving Safety offers a helpful Water Safety Code that can be used to teach children about water safety.
Cover or empty paddling pools straight after use
As soon as you have finished playing in the pool, drain all water out of the container. Empty the pool of water and place it upside down so that it doesn’t fill with rain water.
This can prevent drowning from an unsupervised child, who might get near the water even when there are no intentions to play in it. Ensure any water storage tanks or drains in your garden are also adequately covered for the same reason.
Permanent pools, hot tubs and ponds should also be covered or fenced off to ensure children can not accidentally fall into them.
Turn hoses off at the tap
Hosepipes are common in most British gardens but these can pose significant danger to children. Turning a hose off at the tap can ensure that children are unable to fill up a paddling pool themselves.
Leaving a hosepipe on and unattended can result in children taking them to fill up items like buckets or paddling pools. With just two centimetres of water posing a risk to children, ensuring they are not left unsupervised with a hose can be lifesaving.