With summer in full swing, water play is a fun option for children. Adults in early learning services and at home play a big role to make sure kids stay safe. 

“Parents and caregivers as first teachers for their children can use everyday activities to make learning water safety fun and meaningful,” says Lynley Stewart, Team Leader of Education at Drowning Prevention Auckland.

There are tips on Drowning Prevention Auckland's website on how small children can learn to enjoy water safely, whether it's in a bath, backyard or pool. 

“Babies can drown in as little as 40mm of water. The number one key factor for drowning prevention is supervision. This means keeping children within sight and reach without distractions.”

The four layers of protection to keep children safer around water include:

  1. Supervision: Keep children within sight and reach without distractions
  2. Barriers: Have barriers for all water hazards e.g. shutting bathroom doors, emptying water containers and paddling pools when not in use and storing them out of reach
  3. Learn water competence: Water safety knowledge, understanding, attitudes, behaviours and skills
  4. CPR: Learn child CPR and know what to do in an emergency

People are surprised that knowing how to swim is just one of 15 water competencies for drowning prevention.

“These water competencies are backed by research and include water skills as well as water safety knowledge, attitudes and behaviours,” says Lynley.

Centre staff, parents and caregivers can learn how to be first teachers of water competence by completing short and free online courses on the Drowning Prevention Auckland website.

“Water confidence and awareness are the building blocks for children to develop water competence,” says Helen Meyrick, Aquatic Educator at Drowning Prevention Auckland.

Helen is also running workshops for early learning services, parent groups or community groups that cover water safety for under 5’s. Email for more information and encourage staff and parents at your centre to take advantage of the free water safety courses.

Click below for Drowning Prevention Auckland’s free online courses

For health advice call Healthline for free anytime on 0800 611 116
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