Water Safety during Lockdown…
The combination of good weather, pools in the garden, kids in lockdown and now a lack of lifeguard cover at our beaches, means water safety should be high on the list of our priorities.
Children are particularly vulnerable. Almost 1,000 children drown each year making it the second leading cause of accidental death of those aged between 5 -24.
A young child can actually drown in less than 2 inches of water. Some might seem obvious but here are Tristan Holdom, Head of Tollers Personal Injury Team top tips for staying safe:
- Don’t swim alone – Using a buddy system will ensure someone is always looking out for you and can help, or get help if needed. This applies to both adults and children.
- Do not swim if drinking alcohol or taking medication – Alcohol affects your judgement and reduces your reaction time and co-ordination as can certain medication.
- Consider Water Temperature – ‘Cold Water Shock’: This is the body’s short term involuntary response to being suddenly immersed in cold water. The waters around the UK are officially cold (10 – 15°) and when the body enters this cold environment there are a number of physiological responses. The sudden lowering of skin temperature is one of the most profound stimuli that the body can encounter. The responses tend to be short lived, but threaten survival. The responses are:
- Closure of the blood vessels in the skin which results in increased resistance to blood flow. The heart then has to work harder and blood pressure increases.
- At the same time there is a “gasp” response which can result in water being breathed rather than air.
- One effect of cold water shock is to induce a heart attack, regardless of age or health.
- Fence in pools and hot-tubs – Fencing should be 4-foot-high or higher and should have a self-latching gate, the latch should be out of reach of children.
- Learn CPR – This could be the difference between an incident and a death, make sure your CPR skills are kept up to date, methods will vary from children to adults.
- ALWAYS supervise children – Do not substitute flotation devices or alarms for supervision.
- Teach your child about water safety – Teach your child about how to be safe around water, not to run around a pool, where lifeguards are and what they do, and also about diving and when it is safe to do so.
- Follow the rules – This is especially important at water parks. Always listen to the lifeguards and follow their advice when it comes to water slides, ‘face-up, feet first!’
- Have swimming lessons – Making sure both yourself and your child can swim is one of the single most important things you can do to ensure your safety in and around the water.
- Life vests – These should be worn on any kind of boat trip and when taking part in any water sports where you are in open water. They are also advisable for children when playing near any body of water such as canals, lakes and rivers. This can help prevent Cold Water Shock too.
- Don’t wear loose clothing in the pool – this can get caught in the pumps and pull you or your children under.
- Protect yourself from the sun – reapply sunscreen regularly if you are in and out of the water.
- If your area of the beach is cordoned off stay within the swim section as outside this is usually reserved for leisure craft like jet skis.
- Watch children like a hawk – it only takes a couple of seconds for them to slip under and despite what you have seen in the films, drowning people do not wave their arms and shout it is silent and over in seconds.
- Pool covers – do not assume if you use a pool cover this is safe for children, they often think it is safe to walk on them and can become trapped underneath.
The best way of ensuring the safety of your child, or anyone, in and around the water is to make sure they are educated. Teach them that it’s not safe to swim near the pier when swimming in the sea as the waves can knock you against them, and not to stand with your back to the water as waves can catch you unawares. Teach them that if they are caught in a rip or undercurrent to swim parallel with the beach and call for help. Make sure they know about the dangers of walking on frozen lakes and ponds and that freezing water kills quickly. These are all things that anyone going in the water should know about, if you know what to do in a situation, you are much less likely to panic and make things worse.
Unfortunately, you cannot cover every eventuality. Whilst the vast majority of water leisure time creates happy holiday memories, there are occasions where, through neglect or a lapse in safety standards, the unthinkable happens and a happy holiday quickly turns into a nightmare. If you or a loved one experience an injury or loss due to unsafe holiday environments…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 and get in touch with our specialist team.