Safe behaviours to adopt around water
Swimming season is upon us! But the pools and lakes are places where safety comes first.
Summer of zero drownings
With a heat wave taking over Montreal, many families will be encouraging water play with their children. Here are a few tips from the Montréal Children's Hospital to ensure your family stays safe this summer:
- Watch kids when they are in or around water, designate one adult as the “water watcher”. This person can’t be distracted, which means no phones, and full attention on what’s happening in the water, and take turns. Never assume that because there are many adults around that someone is watching.
- Keep young children within arm’s reach of an adult. Make sure older children swim with a buddy, regardless of their skill level.
- Teach children how to swim by enrolling kids in swimming lessons when they are ready.
- Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool. They need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
- Know what to do in an emergency. Learning CPR and basic water rescue skills may help you save a child’s life.
Kiddie pools or temporary pools
Many families are installing kiddie pools or temporary pools this summer, allowing them to stay home and socially distance. As a parent or caregiver, you can ensure that swimming is a safe as it is fun in your backyard by following a few safety tips from the Montréal Children's Hospital:
- Keep water levels low in kiddie pools for young children. A few inches of water is more than enough to have fun and stay safe.
- Watch kids when they are in or around water, without being distracted. Keep young children within arm’s reach of an adult.
- Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and kiddie pools immediately after use. Store them upside down so they don’t collect water.
- Never allow children to launch themselves into a kiddie pool using a trampoline or by running and diving in.
Limit and control access to your pool. It’s important to install a barrier or fence around the pool to prevent children from accessing it. Ideally, have a fence with a self-closing gate to control access to the pool at all times. More information
Supervision and “designated lifeguards”
In pools, drownings and near-drownings happen most often outside regular swimming times or after accidental falls into the water. This type of incident occurs often because a child living in the household or neighbourhood had access to the pool when no adult was present. The Lifesaving Society proposes designating lifeguards during gatherings of friends and family to ensure someone is responsible for supervising the pool at all times.
Another good approach is to teach children to never go near water without a parent and to explain to them why they should not do so.
Swimming pool and telecommuting/teleworking
As we know, more of you are teleworking this summer than ever before. Answering an e-mail by the poolside while the kids are playing in the water can be very tempting. But drowning won't wait until your office emergency is resolved before it happens.
Drowning is quick and quiet and often happens in less than 30 seconds. It is crucial to supervise your children directly while they are in the water and avoid distractions, as the Lifesaving Society reminds you.
Adopt safe behaviours
- Remove all floating objects from the pool once swim time is over. This can prevent a child from falling into the water if he or she tries to reach those objects.
- Never dive into shallow water.
- Young children and poor swimmers should wear lifejackets when going in, on or near water.
- Enroll your child in swimming lessons.
- Teach your children water safety rules and teach them about currents.
The Lifesaving Society invites you to become an ambassador
July 19 to 25, 2019 has been designated as National Drowning Prevention Weeks. This year’s theme is “Drowning is preventable”. Lifeguards, parents, friends and swimmers can all become ambassadors and help raise awareness by adopting safe behaviours.
The Lifesaving Society’s mission is to encourage safe practices around water to prevent drownings and injuries. It also offers “Swim to Survive”, a prevention program designed for elementary school students in grades 3 to 6 or for any other children’s organization. The program aims to teach basic skills needed to survive an unexpected fall into deep water, because many young people think they can swim but this isn’t always the case: there’s a difference between knowing how to swim and being able to swim.
Also available on the organization’s Website: toolbox for parents whose children are in the program.
Water can be fun, but it can also be dangerous. Are your children familiar with basic water safety rules? Discover fun videos that will help you with prevention.
Splashy Mission is a platform designed to prevent drowning in children aged 6 to 10 years. Kids learn basic swimming skills and water safety rules. In 41 seconds, children learn the best behaviours to adopt when engaging in aquatic activities. Educational games and videos are available on the Québec Lifesaving Society Website. This initiative is a collaboration between Société de Radio-Canada’s Zone Jeunesse and the Lifesaving Society’s “Swim to Survive” program, whose honorary sponsor is ex-Olympic diver Sylvie Bernier.
- Montréal Children's Hospital
- Quebec government - Preventing drowning
- Société de sauvetage | Lifesaving Society
- Coordination régionale des mesures d’urgence, de la sécurité civile et de la liaison avec les salles d’urgence au nom du Comité régional de traumatologie de Montréal