Most of us understand the need to teach our kids about water safety outside of the home, and enthusiastically embrace options like enrolling our kids in swim school from infancy on. But being aware of water safety around the home brings with it its own, separate challenges.
Laurie Lawrence, former Olympic swimming coach and founder of the Kids Alive program, has plenty of practical advice to share covering what we all need to be aware of as parents and carers of young ones when it comes to water safety.
Listen to Laurie Lawrence on Feed Play Love:
Knowing how to stay safe at home can often be about looking at all the water in our living spaces with fresh eyes. Laurie reminds us that while we do need to consider safety around the obvious spots like dams, rivers and lakes, “The home is a dangerous place.” We need to consider things like, “nappy buckets, bathtubs … anything that contains water is dangerous to young children,” he says.
It’s never too early to start thinking about water safety
“Around the home, the most at risk [of drowning] are those children under the age of two,” Laurie points out. “Once they start to get mobile, once they start to become toddlers, of course they’re inquisitive, they explore.”
“My daughter’s living down below us at the moment, and she’s got twins [who are] 10 months of age … old grandpa and grandma – we’re occasionally looking after them – well, are they a handful! Once they get mobile, you need eyes in the back of your head.”
In the home there are several hotspots to look out for, with the primary area being the backyard pool. “The pool still remains the most dangerous place for toddlers around the home.” Laurie cautions, “The gates [are] the weakest link. And because the gate’s the weakest link, you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got a magnetic latch, a MagnaLatch … that automatically shuts tight. It clamps tight. Also, you need hinges that automatically close. TruClose hinges are the best because there are no rust parts in them. They’re all manufactured in Australia … this particular equipment is fully guaranteed, lifetime guarantee.”
Check your backyard for climbing hazards
Once you’ve got your pool fence and gate sorted, Laurie says to look around for other ways young children can access the pool.
“Kids can pull pot plants over. They can pull chairs over. They’re inventive … I’m sitting here at my daughter’s place now, I look around, and lo and behold, she’s got a kids’ bike here! And she’s got a pool there, their fenced pool … Kids could jump on that bike. I’m going to make sure she puts it in the garage. They could jump on the bike, stand up and lift the MagnaLatch!”
“If you have any kids under five come [over] and you’ve got a bike there, they’ll get on it,” warns Laurie.
Be prepared all year round
Laurie says not to wait until summer to pay attention to water safety. We need to be prepared all year, “Summer, winter, autumn, spring. Nobody is immune. People say, ‘it won’t happen to me’.”
“The more you can educate kids and parents about the dangers that exist in and around the home, the more likely you can save lives.”
10 tips for water safety at home
1. Make sure that you drain the bathtub after each use.
2. Never leave kids under 5 unsupervised in the bath.
3. Keep small children within arm’s reach at all times while they’re in the bath.
4. Keep toilet lid closed so that curious little explorers can’t topple in.
5. Use safety latches to keep bathroom and toilet doors secure.
6. Make sure your pool is fenced.
7. Check the gate has a secure lock.
8. Be aware of any object that older kids can pull over, like an outdoor chair or a bicycle, and keep them secure so they can’t be used for climbing the fence.
9. Store buckets out of reach and empty of water.
10. Always keep young children within arm’s reach near bodies of water, including bathtubs, pools, ponds, paddle pools and spas.
Fun ways to learn about water safety – from the comfort of your couch
Due to recent travel and social distancing rules related to COVID-19, Laurie and his daughter have come up with a fun way to allow parents and children to learn about water safety together, from the comfort of your couch!
18 Kids Alive concerts are running through June, featuring songs that Laurie says will have you and your family up and dancing in no time. “We’ve done it in a fun way. These Couch Concerts, I believe, are a chance for parents to sit down with their kids. Enjoy. Have a laugh. Have a dance!”
This sponsored post is brought to you by Kids Alive. Visit now for plenty of dancing, singing, puppet shows, book reads and more in their Couch Concerts through June.