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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.

In the garden: Make sure to empty your paddling pool once you have finished with it. If you have a bigger pool, hot tub or pond, always make sure it is covered – preferably with a childproof, lockable cover.

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.

Michael Scaife was 20 years old when he died of cold water shock when swimming outdoors. His family remember him in this video below.


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

Swimsafe is a free, fun outdoor swimming session aimed at 7-14 year olds, which provide opportunities to learn about how different it is to swim in open water. 


Read more about keeping your child safe.

About the author

Julia is a Professional Development Lead for School Nursing and Kirstie is Professional Development Lead for Health Visiting and Infant Feeding Lead