There is nothing quite like getting out and swimming in a pool. However, whether it’s with friends or family, in a pool at home or abroad or enjoying a picnic by a river or swimming in a lake, it’s always important to keep safe. Under the National Curriculum, all children by the age of 11 years should be able to swim 25 metres unaided, ensuring they have some knowledge of safety in the water. It is always good to have competent swimmers at hand who can swim to an emergency if need be. Where possible, use a swim school so that your children can learn to swim correctly and safely. Key swimming organisations include www.sta.co.uk or www.britishswimming.org
Being able to swim from an early age can open the door to incredible experiences, time spent at a swim class as a child can bring years of new opportunities as you grow and develop. The ability to swim competently is essential for any water sports from diving, canoeing, jet skiing, snorkelling, rowing, kitesurfing and wakeboarding, the list goes on! And this vital life skill can be a regret for many adults who don’t learn to swim early in life!
Around 400 people needlessly drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences. Putting this into context, one person dies every 20 hours in the UK. Drowning is also the third highest cause of accidental death of children in the UK. So the need for children (and adults) to be competent and confident in and around water is essential.
To raise awareness of the importance of water safety, Drowning Prevention Week (18th -26th June 2016), the national campaign of drowning prevention charity the Royal Life Saving Society UK, aims to cut down the number of drowning and near-drowning incidences that happen in the UK every year.
SPATA offers tips on staying safe in and around water;
- Always check the depth of the water.
Shallow water can deepen suddenly, therefore if you are not a strong swimmer you should not swim out of your depth and set clear boundaries about where you will swim. Also, don’t jump or dive into water that you cannot see the bottom of, even if you swim there regularly. Rocks and debris could have moved in flowing water that will make it unsafe.
- Look out for weeds.
One or two weeds aren’t uncommon in slow flowing water, but a spaghetti-like forest can entangle a swimmer’s legs. Try to avoid them. If you do encounter some, slow your swim speed right down and either float using your arms to paddle or turn around slowly.
- Watch out for strong currents.
The best water has flowing currents and therefore you should be careful to judge the strength of the current to assess if you are a strong enough swimmer to deal with it. Always think about your escape route if you do get washed downstream.
- Don’t swim alone.
People should ideally swim where there are others to supervise them, as this may reduce the risk of drowning, as there will be someone to rescue or raise an alarm if a swimmer gets into difficulty.