Warning on holiday dangers for children

With weather temperatures expected to rise and primary schools now on holidays, Water Babies, Ireland’s leading baby and toddler swim school, is advising parents in Galway to watch their children very carefully around water including paddling pools, swimming pools and by the seaside, as the mix of sunshine, water and children can be a lethal combination.

Lisa Cobbe, who runs Water Babies Classes in Galway, is urging parents to be extra vigilant during the Summer holidays. “The danger to children is much greater during hot weather with the added exposure to swimming pools, padding pools, lakes, rivers and the sea.

“We all love the warm weather, chilling out and letting our little ones splash around.  However, parents tend to relax and gain a false sense of security for children during the holidays, when in fact they should be more attentive than ever.”

Water Babies, Ireland’s leading baby and toddler swim school, which conducts an annual Summer Water Safety Campaign, in partnership with Irish Water Safety and Glohealth, recently carried out research into Irish parents swimming skills and capabilities, and the results are astounding.

Out of over 1,000 parents surveyed 59% said they were not confident swimmers with 4% being afraid of water and 5% never having learnt how to swim.

Shockingly 38% of the people surveyed (390 parents) said they wouldn’t feel confident jumping into a swimming pool or swimming out to sea to save a child which demonstrates how important it is to keep an eye on children during days at the beach or swimming pool.

And it is vital that children learn to swim at an early age and that they are taught how to stay safe around swimming pools, paddling pools and open water.

Water Babies research also showed that 11% of parents were unable to swim a length of a pool or tread water and cited a number of reasons for their lack of swimming skills – 20% didn’t have a local swimming pool when they were growing up, 34% said swimming lessons were not available in their school and, worryingly, 23% said their parents didn’t think it was an important life skill.   And 88% of the parents who can’t swim regret not being able to swim now.

Attitudes to swimming are changing.  When asked to prioritise why it was important for children to learn to swim, safety reasons was cited as most important with 67% of today’s generation of parents saying that swimming should be learnt for safety reasons so that their children have the ability to save themselves should they ever fall into water.

Swimming as an important life skill was regarded as the second most important motivation with 39% of respondents agreeing with this.  Finally, 39% swim for health reasons (the third motivator for swimming) because it’s a great form of exercise.

Lisa Cobbe from Water Babies Galway remarked: “A drowning incident can happen silently and instantly, in as little as one inch of water and in less time than it takes to answer the telephone or tend to another child.

“Sadly, a primary factor in cases of fatal drowning is down to the initial shock, when a toddler or child falls into the water.  Very young children react instantly and adversely to sudden and unexpected submersion, and are temporarily paralysed with fear.

“We passionately believe that by introducing babies to water as early as possible, they’ll be less likely to experience fear if they do fall in.   With progressive training, babies can be taught life-saving skills very early on such as turning onto their backs or, following a sudden submersion, swimming to the nearest solid object.”

Water Babies is working closely with Irish Water Safety, the statutory body established to promote water safety in Ireland, to educate parents and change behaviour to prevent drowning and water related accidents and has created a guide which is available from https://www.waterbabies.ie/news/article/100 for parents.

For more info on Water Babies classes, check out www.waterbabies.ie and for adult classes in swimming, water survival and rescue classes, check out www.iws.ie