By Samuel Hunt
Safety for your children is important, and in a place like Shanghai it means taking extra precautions. We give them bottled or filtered water, we make sure they wear a mask outside or have the air filters on inside, but when it comes to a swim at the pool, should we not be just as vigilant?
I have taught swimming for many years in Australia and Shanghai and I know that parents are always interested in how they can make their visits to the pool as safe as possible. There are several ways you can increase safety around water:
1. Make sure your children are aware of the pool rules and what is and is not safe.
2. Keep watch around water.
3. Give your children swimming lessons from qualified instructors.
4. Know what to do if an accident does happen.
Each pool is different so it is important to familiarize yourself with a new pool and to be aware of any potential hazards such as blind spots when supervising children. Also, be on the lookout for areas in the pool,] which may suddenly become deeper.
The current advice about supervision from the Royal Life Saving Society in Australia is that it is the parent’s responsibility to watch their children, lifeguards are just there to save lives. At the age of four and under, the recommendation is to always have your child within an arm’s reach.
Equally important, do not rely on inflatable toys as life preservers. They can deflate or children can slip through putting children at risk.
In addition, swimming lessons will give your child the confidence and ability to enjoy the water, but also some awareness of the dangers involved. Lessons also teach skills, which may help them if they get into a tricky situation.
When enrolling your child in swimming lessons, always ask to see a teacher’s qualification and check that it is up-to-date with CPR qualifications and either a working with children check or national police clearance. If your child is attending international school choose one with a strong, year round aquatics program. Having constant exposure to water will help children be comfortable and safe in a swimming pool.
Finally, if an accident happens, know what to do. You may like to enroll in a CPR course, or better yet for aquatic situations, see if you can find a Bronze Medallion or American Red Cross water safety course available in your city.
If you follow these simple steps then you and your children will be able to enjoy the water this summer no matter where you are.
// Mr. Samuel Hunt is a P.E and swim instructor at Britannica International School, Shanghai.