For young children, there is a real risk of drowning in the home or garden, including neighbours’ gardens. As they get older, the risks are associated more with children exploring and challenging themselves around water. As children grow in confidence they can over-estimate their abilities.
How many children drown or suffer near drowning?
- In 2010, 28 children under 15 drowned in the UK.
- Three of these children were under one, 12 were between one and four, four were between five and nine, and nine were between ten and 14.
- Seven of the under fives drownerd in the bath.
- About 170 children under 15 were taken to hospital after nearly drowning in 2008-09. Near drowning can have long-term consequences such as disability and serious health problems. The longer a child is immersed in water with loss of consciousness and breathing, the more likely that they will suffer these problems.
- This doesn’t include children who die abroad, in hotel or villa pools. Over the last six years, 30 children under 10 have drowned while on holiday abroad. More than half were under four. In many cases, the toddler wandered away from their parents and fell into an unsupervised pool.
How can drowning be prevented?
At home, younger children are most likely to drown in the bath or garden pond. It’s important for parents to understand the risks of babies and young children being left alone, even for a moment. They may get no warning that something is wrong, as babies drown silently in as little as 5 cm of water.
Children under 8 need to be supervised in and around water. They might understand safety instructions but are likely to forget in the heat of the moment. Remember that children don’t cry out for help and wave to be rescued. Instead they disappear under the surface of the water, often unseen.
As children become stronger swimmers, it’s important to educate both them and their parents about water safety. They may still lack the strength and skills to get themselves out of trouble if they find themselves in strong currents or deep water, or discover too late dangerous objects lurking in the water.
CAPT’s resources are tailored to the different stages of a child’s development as well as specific risks so that parents are able to get the information in a way that makes most sense to them. Our fact sheet for parents breaks advice down into three different areas.
- Babies and toddlers
- Older children
- Beach safety
Our leaflets for parents and carers offer a comprehensive advice on the main risk areas for each stage of development
- Babies: top tips for parents and carers
- Toddlers: top tips for parents and carers
- 5-7s: top tips for parents and carers
- 7-11s top tips for parents and carers
Whether you’re educating parents about the risks to their young child, or trying to get across messages to children about being aware of risks around water, there are lots of simple messages. A few examples of the messages you’ll find in CAPT’s resources are:
- Stay with your baby all the time when they’re in the bath, even if there is an older brother or sister in the bath with them.
- If you have a pond and a young child or baby, they will be safer if you fill it in, fence it off or securely cover it. And make sure your garden is secure, so your child can’t get to the neighbour’s pond.
- Children under 8 years old need to be supervised in and around water. They might understand instructions but are likely to forget if they are having fun or are excited.
- Teach older children to choose safe places to swim, such as public pools and beaches patrolled by lifeguards, rather than canals, gravel pits and rivers.
CAPT’s range of leaflets and booklets will support you in your work with parents and carers by underlining the key safety messages. The leaflets are written with different stages of child development in mind, and are a key support tool when teaching parents about child accident prevention.
This resource is a support tool for practitioners, and is not meant to provide stand-alone safety advice. You can find more detailed advice on preventing accidents in the parents section of the website. If you would like teaching aids for workshops, you can purchase some of our colourful, engaging safety resources in the online shop.
There are other important aspects of accident prevention, such as legislation and the physical, social and financial environment that children and families live in. Find out more about the role of practitioners in preventing childhood injuries and deaths from accidents.
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