LSCBLocal Safeguarding Children Board Northamptonshire

Water Safety

Drowning of babies and children is something that mostly happens at home, in as little as a few centimetres of water either in the bath or in the garden. Drowning happens silently. So it’s vital to remain vigilant and keep our children safe around water. Never leave your child unattended around water, even for a second. Accidents can happen before you even realise it.

Bath time

  • Never leave a baby or child in the bath unsupervised, not even for a minute - this includes in a bath seat
  • If you leaving a bath to fill, or the bath has water in it, keep the bathroom door securely shut and make sure your toddler or young child couldn't fall in by accident.

Garden ponds

Almost all incidents where a child drowns in a garden occur after a breakdown in supervision. Follow the advice below to keep your children safe:

  • Fill in your garden pond before your baby is able to crawl or walk.  If this isn't possible, cover ponds with a fixed, rigid grille or fence them off securely.
  • If you decide to keep a garden pond, make sure children are supervised closely and constantly while they're in the garden. 
  • Be careful when your children visit other gardens that have ponds or lakes nearby.

Paddling pools

Children should be supervised at all times when playing in paddling pools, even if they only contain a few centimetres of water. Below is some helpful advice for using paddling pools.

Please consider the following safety advice to protect your little ones:

  1. Consider fencing areas of water off to prevent accidental access
  2. When children are playing around water, close and constant supervision is essential
  3. Use safety gates/door locks to prevent children from going outside unnoticed
  4. Empty buckets/bathtubs/paddling pools when not in use

Water butts

If you use water butts in the garden to store water, make sure they are securely covered with a lid. Make sure a child could not get into it.

Outdoor Swimming

As tempting as a dip in a river or lake might be, make sure children and teenagers know the danger of swimming in open waters. Strong currents, deep cold water and the potential for water to be contaminated, especially in more deserted areas of our country, can all be real hazards. Make sure your children choose safer places to swim like public pools or beaches with lifeguards and clear safe swimming flags.

Swimming in the Sea

In the UK, we are surrounded by beautiful beaches – as well as bracing seas! You need your wits about you to dip your toes in but if you are planning on a trip to the beach, make sure you teach your children that it’s only safe to swim in between the red and yellow flags. Never use inflatables when the orange windsock is flying – this means the wind is too strong and inflatables are likely to be pulled out to sea.

In recent years, there has been an increase in teenagers getting into difficulties in open waters and sadly this has led to death. Please ensure your children know how to stay safe.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) have clear guidance on keeping safe in water. Their Respect the Water campaign encourages people to be educated on the risks, and how to enjoy the water safely. Remember this, and teach your children:

Fight your instinct, not the water – floating will increase your chance of survival
If you see someone in difficulty, do not go after them – call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

Last updated: 14 July 2022

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