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Young children put at risk near water

National survey highlights parents’ lack of concern about water safety - drowning is the third biggest cause of accidental death among children in the UK.

A survey released today reveals that, for 87 per cent of parents planning their family holiday this summer, dangers associated with water are not a concern, despite drowning being the third biggest cause of accidental death among children in the UK. 

 The poll, commissioned by the world’s largest baby swimming company, Water Babies, revealed that just one in five of the 2,000 polled parents have taught their child to be safe in the water, with 40 per cent admitting it is not something they have ever considered.

 Although 90 per cent of mums and dads agree that it is the parents’ responsibility to ensure their children have key life skills such as being able to swim, ride a bike and have good table manners, over a third admit that other daily commitments, namely long working hours and household chores, take priority.

And with 67 per cent of parents ranking swimming as one of the least important life skills, water confidence lessons are often overlooked. 

In line with National Water Safety Awareness Week, which takes place between 18-25 June, Water Babies commissioned the research to raise awareness of the importance and benefits of teaching children to be  confident in the water from as young an age as possible.

Paul Thompson, co-founder of Water Babies, comments: “Teaching a child basic water safety and confidence in the water saves lives. Amazingly, with progressive training, babies can be taught life survival skills very early on, such as turning onto their backs or, following a sudden submersion, swimming to the nearest solid object.”

The majority of parents surveyed believe a child should learn to swim from the age of three, but in fact children can learn from much earlier. Water Babies specialises in teaching parents to teach their children from birth. Thompson confirms: “Our youngest baby began learning water confidence with us at just two days old. The first year of a baby’s life is crucial in terms of development and regular exercise plays a vital role in this. Water allows for a baby’s muscles to move freely without the constraints of gravity – making being in the water the perfect exercise for tots.

“Introduction to water at such a young age means that, should an accident happen, a young child will feel confident enough to attempt to save themselves. We have lots of examples where children who have taken our courses have done exactly this.”

But it seems there are other factors affecting parents’ attitudes towards taking the plunge with their little ones. Whilst three quarters of parents said they enjoy the bonding time that activities with their offspring provide, one in four said their personal fitness levels prevent them from getting involved. A further one in five parents cannot swim themselves and a quarter say the idea of donning a swimsuit was enough to prevent them from joining in with aquatic activities with their children.

Thompson concludes: “Whilst it’s a huge shame that so many young children across the UK may miss out on the fun and health benefits of swimming this summer because their parents lack confidence in the water, the more worrying fact is that drownings will occur that could easily be prevented if children were taught simple swimming skills from an early age.”

For more information about water safety and tips for testing the water with your little one, please visit www.waterbabies.co.uk

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