Drowning is the most likely manner in which a middle or upper income family will lose the life of a child under the age of five.
But simple methods, tools and activities can reduce loss of life by drowning.
Pool alarms: These will alert you that your child has fallen into the pool;
Pool fences: Relying only on your pool fence to prevent a drowning is very dangerous. Because of the false sense of security that is created by a fence, drowning is more likely in fenced pools. A pool fence should be sturdy, at least 1,5m high, with no gaps, breaks or climbing tools such as trees, garden furniture etc nearby. The gate through the fence should be lockable, self-latching, spring-loaded and should open away from the pool;
Pool nets: A child can drown in a netted pool if the net sags below the water by as little as three centimetres under his or her weight. Nets are difficult to fit and remove, but remember, no net, no safety. Always test that the net remains above the surface of the water even when weighted down;
Solar blankets can be extremely dangerous. If a child falls into a blanketed pool, the blanket may close above him, concealing the accident until it is too late;
Follow these tips to make sure you are doing your job properly:
Stay at the pool, preferably in the pool, at all times when your child is swimming or playing around the pool. Never leave a child alone, even to get your cellphone or to answer the door bell;
Don't be distracted when watching a child around the pool. Avoid talking on the phone, eating, drinking, reading, snoozing or playing with another child;
When many children are swimming, designate a sober, committed and responsible water watcher.
If your child is missing, go to the pool first and search the pool and pool area;
Never leave toys or other attractive items around the pool. The temptation to fetch a favourite toy may overwhelm your child's training to avoid the pool if alone;
Always empty and overturn inflatable splash-pools, buckets, drums etc. Always close the lid of your toilet;
Learn to perform child cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). It is not the same as adult CPR;
Train your child never to swim without asking you first. A tamper-proof pool alarm can assist in this training;
Swimming lessons are a useful aid, but not a one-stop solution to prevent drowning. Children should never be expected to fend for themselves around a pool. - Tips by the Layers of Safety Campaign, carried on kidzworld. For more parenting tips, visit www.kidzworld.co.zaTips by the Layers of Safety Campaign, carried on kidzworld. For more parenting tips, visit www.kidzworld.co.za