Know potential threats
It’s not just swimming pools or beaches where you must be cautious. Even bathtubs at home, ditches and drum filled with water can be hazardous. Keep the cans covered and empty water if you are not using them. They are a breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies.
Ensure an adult is always around
Children shouldn’t be allowed near water bodies without supervision. “There’s a reason why beaches and swimming pools where adults practise are equipped with lifeguards — to help in case of emergency. So, make sure that either you or an adult — your spouse, family members or your kid’s friends’ parents — is always present at an arm’s length away from the child,” says physical education trainer Mathew Moses. He adds, “In swimming jargon, this is called touch supervision.” Have family and friends on standby, and tell them how to react in case of an emergency. Write out all the important phone numbers as well. And when you are watching the kids, do only that. Don’t get distracted by the smartphone.
Learn first aid
Knowing life-saving techniques like CPR is always important. Life coach Shekhar Kekan says, “When you see someone is drowning or choking in the water, follow the four-step rule — reach to them using towel, rod or by lying down flat near the water body, throw a safety ring around them, swim to reach them or get a rescue boat if need be. Once you get them out of danger, pump their stomach to get the excess water out of their body. Knowing how to react in case someone has a heart attack or is choking is also important. However, remember that the first instinct of anyone who is drowning is to catch hold of whatever or whoever is near them.”
Set firm rules
Radhika Kanwalkar, a housewife and mother of a two-year-old son, says, “Before we took him to the beach, we had ingrained in his mind the following rules — don’t run near water, don’t push others into the water, and never go out of our sight. When you are strict with rules, there is little chance of accidents.”
Use life jackets
Life-saving jackets are not replaceable with inflatable toys. Yes, they provide support for your child to stay afloat, but they stand the risk of getting deflated. Moses says, “If you are going to the pool, ask the authorities for life jackets. I would suggest, invest in one, because most beaches in our country don’t have such facilities. If your little one is using floaties or inflatable toys, he/she can easily slip off them. Life jackets in the right size will not come off once they wear it. Also, remove all the toys from the pool when not needed, because they can tempt kids to jump into the pool.”
Familiarise kids with the surroundings
When you take children to the beach, for a boat ride or to the pool, show them around first and make them familiar with the new surroundings. Ravi Raghav, a marketing manager, says, “The first thing that I did when I took my four-year-old daughter for swimming lessons was to teach her the layout of the pool. I told her where the deep and shallow ends were. Even if she was under the care of the coach, I wanted her to know the risks.” Shekhar adds, “Another important lesson that parents can impart to kids while teaching them how to be safe near water is to show them the importance of teamwork. Tell them how they can keep a watch on each other and always be on the lookout of those who need help.”
Did you know?
Studies show that kids aged between one and four are less likely to drown if they have had formal training. Children who are exposed to water from a younger age become more comfortable around it.