Firstly, we would like to thank all our amazing Blue Fin families for supporting Swim Safer Week last week! We thought it was a great success, with the kids learning so much and having lots of fun in the process!
BUT the learning doesn’t end there! Keeping our children safe around water this summer is something that we all need to keep working on.
We interviewed Maidie and Bec (Blue Fin Swim School Manager and Assistant Manager) to get their thoughts on this topic and to share some experience and insight into water safety this summer.
Why is water safety important to us?
Sadly, 280 Australians drowned last year in our waterways. Of this 280, over 100 were at the beach and 40 were in pools, and 21 of these were children. With drowning still being listed in the top 5 causes of accidental death in children under 10 and the top cause of accidental death in children aged 1-4 it is clear that we need to vigilant in keeping our children educated, aware and safe around water.
The number of drownings in January nearly doubles that of other months so with Holidays just around the corner it is particularly important that we prepare our Blue Fin swimmers and families with the skills and tools they need to stay safe around water.
Bec: Where we live in Melbourne puts us less than a 10 minute drive from a number of local pools and bay beaches, and only an hour’s drive from the closest surf beach. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to where we spend our hot summer days! However, with this blessing comes a need to be aware and educated about how to swim safely and responsibly at these locations.
Outside of my work at Blue Fin I am also very actively involved in my local Surf Lifesaving Club, I have been a volunteer patrol member for 9 years and a professional lifeguard for 3 years. I was lucky that my parents placed so much emphasis on teaching us to swim and be safe around water; however, I am still stunned by the number of families who come to the beach every summer with no swimming skills and no knowledge about how to swim safely at the beach.
While the beach and the pool are a beautiful, fun and refreshing place to spend the summer with your kids, the risks and dangers are real. That’s why it is so important that we are all aware about how to be, and swim, safe around the water!
What tips do we have for staying water safe?
Maidie: Step number 1 is to get your kids into swimming lessons early!! So A++ to all our Blue Fin parents who are already doing so!
One of the best things about our program is that we do cater for children as young as 6 months, which means that even before your toddler can walk and talk they have an awareness for themselves in the water; how it feels when they jump in, when they float, and most important you will have already taught them Rule Number One: Always wait for an adult before going near the water.
However the swimming journey doesn’t stop at Level 6, our squads cater for all swimmers, from those who want to race at National level to those who do it for fun and fitness. Being a strong and confident swimmer can play a really important role in keeping your children safe when they are at the beach because even the best swimmers can struggle when the conditions get rough.
Bec: Step number 2 is to get your children practising and using their swimming skills in other activities, such as Nippers!
Nippers is a great program as not only do your kids get to practise their swimming in the ocean, but they learn about the risks and dangers at the beach AND how to manage and be safe around them. It is also a fun, community orientated, summer activity that all members of the family can be involved in (parent participation and helpers are always encouraged!).
Here are 5 steps you can take to make sure your kids stay safe this Summer:
Never Swim Alone! This is a big big one, particularly for our families that have little ones. Make sure that your kids know to never go swimming when you aren’t with them.
Supervise, Supervise, Supervise! It doesn’t matter how old your children are, you always need to know where they are ALL the time. Most pools have a rule that says children under 10 MUST be accompanied by an adult, and the same should be applied at your own home pool and at the beach. For children under the age of 5 stay within arms distance away, all it takes is a slip on the bottom of the pool or a wave to knock the little ones over, and under the water. It isn’t worth the scare for you or for them – make sure you are ALWAYS with them.
Swim Between the Flags: Volunteer Patrollers set up the flags to let the beach goers know where the safest place to swim is. Teach your kids good habits and always swim between the flags, as not only is this the place with the safest conditions but it is the place where the lifesavers watch the closest. There has NEVER been a drowning between the flags.
Make sure your children know who the lifeguards / lifesavers are: The lifeguards at pools and lifesavers at the beach wear an uniquely identifiable uniform to make it easy for people to spot them. By making sure your children know who these people are, what they wear and how they can help, you are ensuring that if anyone were to get into trouble your children would know exactly the right person to ask for help.
Make a meeting point: If, for whatever reason, your children get separated from you, make sure they know where to go to meet you. A landmark such as the stairs at the beach or a particular bench at a pool is a good idea (as tents or towel can move and disorientate them). Another good idea is to go to the lifeguards, on a busy day the lifeguards have more resources at their disposal to find you or your child quickly, such as binoculars, a PA system and people in the water and on the beach who can help you look.
Maidie: Remember that even the strongest of swimmers can get themselves into trouble if they don’t follow these guidelines. Both Bec and I are very strong swimmers but we would never go swimming alone, particularly at an unpatrolled beach.
Bec: This Summer make sure you teach your kids good habits about being water smart and water safe, always swim with an adult and always swim between the flags!
With only a week left of classes to go, we would like to wish you all a very happy Holiday and a safe, relaxing and enjoyable summer break!
Love the Blue Fin Team xx