Drowning happens silently. A drowning child can’t speak or control their arms. It’s only in the movies they splash about and cry for help.
At home, younger children are most likely to drown in the bath or garden pond. There may be no warning that something is wrong, as babies drown silently in as little as 5 cm of water.
Paddling Pools and Ponds
Boundaries and Fencing
Residential swimming pools should have boundaries or fencing which:
• Should be at least 1.2meters high
• Should not be accessible from underneath – children can squeeze through very small gaps!
• Should remain closed and not be propped open, with self-closing and self-latching gates
• Should not be accessible to unaccompanied children
Drain paddling pools when not in use and cover hot tubs and garden ponds securely if fencing isn’t an option.
Think neighbour! Make sure your garden fences are secure so toddling feet can’t wander into a neighbouring garden, which may have a pond or pool.
Keeping pools, ponds and tubs secured is crucial but there are other precautions you can take to keep your children safe around water.
Water Safety for Older Children
As children become older and possibly stronger swimmers, it’s important to educate them about water safety. They may still lack the strength and skills to get themselves out of trouble if they find themselves in strong currents or deep water, or discover too late dangerous objects lurking in the water.
At the beach:
Lakes, rivers and locks
Swimming in an open body of water like a river, lake, or lock is different from swimming in a pool. There may be hidden dangers beneath the water that you don’t know about.
Buddy up - Always swim with a partner. Even experienced swimmers can become tired or get muscle cramps, which might make it difficult to get out of the water. When people swim together, they can help each other or go for help in case of an emergency.
Know your limits - If you're not a good swimmer or you're just learning to swim, don't go in water that's so deep you can't touch the bottom and don't try to keep up with skilled swimmers. If your mates are daring you to go further than you’re comfortable with, or capable of, it can be hard to say no, but it's a pretty sure bet they'd rather have you safe and alive.
If you are a good swimmer and have had lessons, keep an eye on friends who aren't as comfortable or as skilled as you are. If it seems like they (or you) are getting tired or a little uneasy, suggest that you take a break from swimming for a while.
By the sea
Swimming in an open body of water, like the sea is different from swimming in a pool. More energy is needed to handle the currents and other changing conditions in the open water.
If you do find yourself caught in a current, don't panic and don't fight the current. Try to swim parallel to the shore until you are able to get out of the current, which is usually a narrow channel of water. Gradually try to make your way back to shore as you do so. If you're unable to swim away from the current, stay calm and float with the current. The current will usually slow down, then you can swim to shore.
More information on water safety by the sea can be found on the RNLI Respect the Water webpages.
Tombstoning offers a high-risk, high-impact experience that can have severe and life-threatening consequences. This is because:
Don't jump into the unknown. Consider the dangers before you take the plunge:
More information on tombstoning can be found on the RoSPA website.