Holidays are meant to be a time for families to come together without the stresses of everyday life and be filled with fun, laughter and fond memories. Unfortunately on occasions these memories are turned to tragedy and a family is changed forever. Drowning is the second highest cause of unintentional injury-related deaths in children aged 14 and under, with children under 5 being at even greater risk. With the summer months approaching there is nothing more inviting than a possible dip in the sea, river or pool, the only thing on your mind is to have fun and relax. This is when the potential of accidents can happen as we have excitement on our minds and not safety. These accidents happen in the blink of an eye and usually when children are not made aware of the dangers in and around water and are not supervised. With the summer being a very popular time for families to take their holidays it is not surprising to hear that the majority of drowning happens between May and August.
Whether holidaying in the UK or abroad ensuring that you and your family are aware of safety issues in and around water can help your holiday go swimmingly. Water quality must play a major part in your assessment when arriving at your holiday resort, you need to be able to see the bottom of the pool and know what the depths of the water are. Make sure you know when the pool opening times are and do not swim outside of these as often these are the times that the resort will treat the pool with chemicals. Sudden depth changes should be noted, especially if these are part of the separation between the shallow children’s section and the deeper water. Take notice of where the outlet grilles are in the pool. These should be covered with a grille or grating with the water flow not generating any substantial suction. Suction created through these outlets is enough to trap a bather underwater. Get to know what the area around the pool is like, taking into account the conditions of the pool floor, a slip can mean a serious head injury or an unknown fall into the pool.Maintaining just a few simple rules will help to keep you and your family safe:
- Never swim alone
- DO NOT swim in cloudy water
- Know the depths of the pool
- Keep children under 5 at arm’s reach and teenagers in sight
- DO NOT dive in unknown or shallow water
- DO NOT swim after eating a heavy meal or drinking alcohol
- DO NOT swim outside of pool opening times
- ALWAYS follow the pool safety rules displayed
Of course a holiday does not always mean a trip abroad and a swim does not always mean in a pool. A trip to the UK coast will bring further rules into play. In the sea there are many hidden dangers that you cannot see but must be taken into account. It may look calm and inviting on the surface but underneath there could be strong undercurrents which can even sweep away the strongest of swimmers. Every year millions of people have great fun on our beaches, but being unaware of the dangers can lead to a bad decision and result in someone being swept out to sea. In the UK we have a flagging system on our beaches and getting to know what each flag means is a good place to start when travelling to our coastlines.
- RED – Danger DO NOT enter the water
- RED AND YELLOW – Shows the area of the beach patrolled by lifeguards and where it is safe to swim
- BLACK AND WHITE CHEQUERED – Shows the area for boats and surfers. DO NOT swim in this area
- ORANGE WINDSOCK – If this is flying it means there are dangerous wind conditions and you should not use an inflatable in the sea.
Weather, tides and waves are all changeable and conditions should be checked before you go swimming. Children should not be allowed to swim in the sea when the tide is turning or to wave dodge as this also can lead to being swept away. It is very easy to lose sight of children on a beach, as they play in the water and sand they can gradually move down the beach without you realising. Before long you can be easily separated, so having an adult with children at all times is a must even if there is a lifeguard present. Taking swimming lessons is very important for children’s safety and enrolling them as soon as possible could help to save their lives. You can even let them have lessons whilst on holiday in some resorts. Remember no child is ‘drown-proof’ and so you have to be their ‘safety mechanism’ at all times.
Be SAFE and enjoy yourself!