Water Safety for Under 5's
Water presents a potentially life threatening hazard for young children in and around the home and in the wider community, a fact supported by statistics which show preschool children have one of the highest drowning rates of all New Zealanders.
However, given the right opportunities, and with encouragement, your child can become both confident and competent in the water.
Think about safety first!
Safety is of critical importance as children are introduced to water play and later when they learn to swim.
Always supervise children near water – ALWAYS!
Supervision without any distractions is the single most important precaution you can take. Children learn by exploring their environment, new adventures are only a few steps away.
Proper supervision in and around water requires a responsible adult keeping young children in their care both WITHIN SIGHT and WITHIN REACH.
Water safety at home and the surrounding environment
Almost half of all pre-school drownings occur in home pool. This is most frequently at the child's own home or when visiting a friend or relative. Home swimming and spa pools are not the only hazard faced by preschoolers in a home environment.
Don’t let your guard down around any body of water. All aquatic environments are exciting, fun areas for children but they are all potentially dangerous.
• Closely supervise children yourself – do not leave the task to any lifeguards who might be on duty.
• Never let children swim alone.
What needs to be fenced?
For the purpose of the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 a swimming pool is defined as any excavation, structure or product containing water over 400mm deep that is used or is capable of being used for swimming, wading, paddling or bathing and includes spa and inflatable pools.
All pools must be fenced and comply with the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987. Each local council is responsible for monitoring pool fences within their area. Pools must remain empty until an approved complying fence is installed. Contact your local council for more details.
It is recommended that where possible pools and the immediate pool area are surrounded by isolation fencing to prevent thoroughfare of young children from the house to the pool.
If you own the pool the responsibility for the prevention rests with you. If you sit on the fence over this issue, you commit a crime. A crime that could mean a child – your own or someone else’s – dies in your home or on your property.
Fencing that complies with the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987 is a critically important part of having a safe home environment for children. You can cut the risks even further by:
• maintaining the fence and gate in good condition
• always supervising children in or near a pool
• always making sure the gate to the pool is safely shut
• setting rules of behaviour around the pool and teaching your child water safety and swim and survive skills
• clearing away toys and flotation aids from the pool area when not in use;
• NEVER prop open the pool gate
• learn first aid and resuscitation.
Introducing children to water in ‘fun’ ways, in the familiar surroundings of their own home should help children enjoy water safely throughout their lives and is a process that can and should start from birth.
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