Royal Life Saving Australia reports that between July 2021 and June 2022, 339 people lost their lives in drowning incidents across Australia and an estimated 686 others experienced a non-fatal drowning incident. Sadly, this highlights the importance of being safe around the water, no matter your age or swimming ability.
Learn to Swim Coordinator at Aquahub, Natasha Van Der Heyden, encourages parents to teach their children about water safety.
“The best way for parents to help their children to be safe around water is to enrol them in swimming lessons at an early age – 6 months old is a great time to start – and regularly attend the lessons,” Natasha said.
“We also recommend taking children for regular visits to the pool or beach to practice the skills learnt during their swimming lessons, along with having regular discussions about how to be safe around the pool and other aquatic environments – such as following the rules and not diving into shallow water.”
In addition, Natasha emphasised learning how to perform CPR on children and adults and refreshing these skills every 12 months; ensuring there are secure barriers around any bodies of water at home; and not relying on personal flotation devices such as arm floaties or inflatable pool toys.
Maroondah Leisure offers a variety of programs to help residents of all ages and abilities to improve their water safety skills and knowledge, including:
- Learn to Swim programs at Aquanation in Ringwood and Aquahub in Croydon, with lessons available from infants to adults.
- Access for All Abilities swimming programs for children and adults with a disability or with additional learning needs.
- Aquabuddies in the Warm Water Pool (Thursday evenings) at Aquahub for adults with disabilities.
- Aquatic Playgroup at Aquahub (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings) for parents with babies under 12 months of age.
- Holiday Intensive Swim Programs, with the next program running from 9 to 13 January.
- Age-friendly warm water classes at Aquanation.
Water Safety Week
Aquanation and Aquahub are running a Water Safety Week for all Learn to Swim classes from 5 December to 11 December, the first week of summer. The week will promote the importance of playing it safe by the water through activities such as:
- floating and rotating onto their back
- treading water
- how to correctly fit a life jacket/personal flotation device (PFD)
- swimming with clothes on
- safe entry into the water
- how to perform non-contact rescues
- survival strokes
- discussions about rips and other dangers, along with the importance of supervision and other safety considerations
- how to get help from an adult or call 000.
Top tips for playing it safe around water
- Never swim alone – if something goes wrong, there won’t be anyone to help you or to call 000 in an emergency. Even experienced swimmers can become injured or have something unexpected happen.
- Always supervise children attentively around any body of water, and if multiple adults are present, take turns to watch children for a designated amount of time.
- Check the weather, as strong winds, hail and lightning can create dangerous conditions.
- Know the conditions and only swim where permitted.
- Read and follow water safety signs and barriers, including swimming between the red and yellow flags when at the beach.
- Don’t swim in flood water, as there could be strong currents or dangerous objects submerged.
- Always wear a life jacket when on a boat or jet ski, including as a driver or passenger.
- Don’t take risks around water, including swimming near waterfalls, cliff jumping or diving off piers.
Pool and spa regulations – know your responsibilities
Laws introduced in December 2019 by the Victorian Government require mandatory registration of all pools and spas; that pool/spa fences and gates meet regulations and be in proper working order; and that all owners (including rental providers) are legally required to have their safety barriers inspected and a certificate of barrier compliance lodged with Council every four years.