One third of parents don’t feel confident enough in the water to save a child in difficulty
Irish parents are not confident swimmers and more than a third are not confident they could save a child in difficulty, new research has revealed.
The study found that 59pc of Irish parents are not confident in their swimming ability, while 38pc admitted they would not be able to save a child from drowning in the ocean or swimming pool.
The researchers at baby and toddler swim school Water Babies surveyed more than 1000 Irish parents and found that 4pc were afraid of water and 5pc have never learned how to swim.
The company has launched a water safety campaign to help parents be more aware of the dangers posed by swimming pools and the ocean, particularly during the summer months.
Carol McNally from Water Babies said: “A drowning incident can happen silently and instantly, in as little as one inch of water and in less time than it takes to answer the telephone or tend to another child.
“Sadly, a primary factor in cases of fatal drowning is down to the initial shock, when a toddler or child falls into the water. Very young children react instantly and adversely to sudden and unexpected submersion, and are temporarily paralysed with fear.”
“We all look forward to holiday time, chilling out and letting our little ones splash around. However parents tend to relax and gain a false sense of security for children in a holiday setting, when in fact they should be more attentive than ever.”
Despite the lack of swimming confidence possessed by Irish parents, the research found that 67pc of parents believe swimming is a vital skill to be learned by children growing up.
“We passionately believe that by introducing babies to water as early as possible, they’ll be less likely to experience fear if they do fall in," said Carol.
“With progressive training, babies can be taught life-saving skills very early on such as turning onto their backs or, following a sudden submersion, swimming to the nearest solid object,” she said.
Water Babies' Top Water Safety Tips
Actively supervise young children around water
Parents must keep an eye on their children at all times – they can be easily distracted chatting to other parents, reading a newspaper or talking on the phone.
Supervising adults should be in arms reach of children under five so that if a child slips underwater, they can be pulled to safety immediately
The adult watching must be able to swim and not afraid to jump in the water.
If leaving, even momentarily, take your child or designate a known adult to supervise – never leave an older sibling in charge around water.
Be safety conscious at the poolside
Make sure there is a qualified lifeguard in attendance before you or your children enter a public swimming pool.
Check where the rescue equipment and lifeguards are.
Do not swim in a swimming pool which has cloudy pool water or where you can’t see the pool bottom
Save the local emergency numbers on your mobile phone.
Flotation devices are not life preservers
Toys and inflatables are often unstable and therefore a hazard.
Do not swim at beaches with large waves, a powerful undercurrent or no lifeguards
Find out where the lifeguards are and learn water symbols and flags indicating current beach conditions. Please follow their advice, available at Irish Water Safety’s website, www.iws.ie
Drinking can impair your supervision and swimming skills – especially when combined with the mid-day heat.
Learn BLS (Basic Life Support)
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) may provide the seconds needed to prevent death or brain damage.
Teach your children these water safety rules:
Always swim with others, never alone
Do not push or jump onto others or participate in any dangerous behaviour in a swimming pool – ie horseplay, wrestling, running, jumping and dive bombing – it might result in injury.
Do not dive into water. Diving into insufficient water depths can cause face, head and spinal injuries and even death
Know what to do in an emergency and where to get help. Call 999 or 112.
Make sure everybody wears a lifejacket when boating or fishing that is age and size specific and has a correctly fitting crotch strap.