What have apes got to do with the need for water safety?

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Our early ancestors spent most of their time adjusting to a damp environment., so much that humans evolved as virtually hairless and young babies can swim instinctively. This is the basis of  the Aquatic Ape Theory.  We think we are more sophisticated now, but out of our normal environment, such as the annual holiday, proximity to water still presents dangers especially for children.

This post contains some tips for water safety and also a very useful link to an interview with Sharon Davies, form British Swimming Champion, where she answers questions about water phobias, teaching youngster to swim and gives some practical advice.

When do accidents happen?

RoSPA found that the majority of incidents happened on the first or last day of a family holiday. Other research highlights early morning or evening as being  the times when children are most at risk, when keen to explore they may easily slip away unnoticed.

A few thoughts to bear in mind.

Commonly people drowning are shown to waving their arms to attract attention. This is not what happens when children drown. Instead, they slip silently under the water and drown quickly.

On holiday where the environment, regulations and routines are different it is wise to supervise younger children closely around water. So, if you stay in a private property –you are the lifeguard and responsible for your children’s safety. 

Test your safety knowledge

If you would like to test either your knowledge or that of your children, here are two quizzes to try.

Key points on Water Safety from ROSPA
Before you go:

  • Check the safety arrangements in advance.
  •  Teach children never to swim alone.
  • Be cautious about booking properties that do not have safety fencing (in France such properties do not comply with the law).
  • Take a first aid course – know how to resuscitate a child.
  • Ask your travel company if the hotel pool has a lifeguard.
  • Actively supervise all young children near water.
  • Choose pools that are fenced with locking gates. 
  • Even if a pool has a lifeguard or alarm – know where your children are, and what they are doing in the water.
  • Let children take swimming classes whilst on holiday – a great way of gaining water confidence and learning essential water safety skills.
  • Inflatables are not a substitute for supervision or swimming ability
Some simple rules for children to learn
  • Never swim alone
  • Do not dive into unknown depths of water, and only jump feet first into water
  • Do not push or jump onto others
  • Know where to get help in an emergency.
Sharon Davies talks to Bristol Netmum about swimming and water safety.
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A useful link:
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