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The warm weather is finally here! While we’re singing from the mountain tops that summer has finally arrived, it’s also got us thinking about those water safety skills we haven’t had to worry about during the colder months.

So, consider this your summertime refresher course on all things water safety. Whether you’re by the pool or riding the waves, keep these tips in mind to ensure your summer fun isn’t ruined by any nasty accidents.

BY THE POOL

Did you know that, last year, the number of drowning deaths in swimming pools was higher than the 10-year average? Or that most of the drowning deaths in the under-fives age group occurred in swimming pools?

It’s not a nice thing to think about, but it does highlight the importance of keeping watch when your little ones are swimming – whether it’s in a backyard pool or a public one.

Royal Lifesaving recommend the following guidelines for public pools, but we reckon they sound pretty reasonable for swimming in your own pool, too…

  • For zero to five-year-olds and non-swimmers, you should say within arms’ reach of them.
  • For six to ten-year-olds and weak swimmers, parents should stay close and be prepared, maintaining constant visual contact at all times.
  • For 11 to 14-year-olds, make sure they’re always within eyesight. Anything can happen, no matter how strong your child is at swimming.

Also, encourage your children to observe the pool rules at all times – don’t jump or dive into shallow water, practice safe water entry and exits, and keep an eye out for other pool patrons and swimmers (particularly if they’re weak swimmers).

Everyone has a role to play in pool safety – even your kids.

BY THE SEA

Growing up in Australia – particularly coastal Queensland – surf safety is pretty much drilled into us from our first step onto the sand. Always swim between the flags, keep an eye out for lifeguards and listen to their instructions are things we all know to do. But what are some other beach safety tips that could spell the difference between a fun day at the beach and disaster?

Would you know how to spot a rip in the ocean? As unpredictable and complex as they may be, there are tell-tale signs that will let you know where a rip is – and where to avoid swimming. Surf Life Saving says that the water may be a darker colour, there are likely to be fewer waves, the surface of the water may be rippled where the rip is and smoother in other places, or there may be discoloured, sandy water flowing out to see between the waves.

If you’re stuck in a rip, the most important thing to remember is to stay calm. Raise your hand to signal to the life savers on shore that you need help. You can also try floating with the current to see if it will take you back to shore, or swimming parallel to the beach. Whatever you do, it’s important to conserve your energy as much as possible, so don’t struggle against the pull of the rip.

BY THE LAKE

Planning on spending some time by a lake, creek or dam this summer? While pool edges and rips may not be something you have to think about, swimming in fresh water comes with its own set of dangers and it pays to know how to stay safe.

In particular, you won’t always be able to see the bottom of an inland waterway like you would at the beach or in a pool. Don’t jump or dive into a creek, especially without checking the depth – while the water could definitely be deep in some areas, submerged rocks, logs or other debris could cause serious injuries, so it’s best to enter the water slowly. At the water’s edge, beware of slippery or unstable surfaces.

Just like at the beach and the pool, you should always read any information or safety signs that alert you to potential dangers both in and around the water. Do your research, and ask people who know the area for safety tips.

For more water safety tips, head to www.royallifesaving.com.au

Anastasia White

Anastasia White  

Anastasia (‘Anny’ to her friends and family, thanks to some nickname experimentation in year 4 that unfortunately stuck) is a born-and-bred Brisbanite with a love of coffee and her cat, Olive. Having recently finished a degree in journalism, Anastasia loves being able to learn and write about so many different topics for a variety of audiences.