The days are longer and warmer, and Kiwis tend to head towards any form of water over summer. We want all our AUT Millennium community to have a fun and safe summer holiday, so here are our top tips for making sure your whole family enjoy the season.
The ocean, rivers, lakes, or backyard pools, it doesn’t matter what type of water it is, during summer, we’re regularly on or in it. “Just add water” is a common phrase in the kitchen, but it could very easily be describing a traditional New Zealand summer. As an island nation, it’s especially important to be comfortable in the open water.
Often, parents and caregivers are very diligent in making sure their young ones are safe around water – actively supervised, wearing life jackets, wearing sun protection. It’s essential for adults to take these same things into account, not only for their personal safety, but also to model the importance of water safety to the younger generations.
Different skills are required in open water and in the pool. You or your child could be confident in a flat water pool environment, but throw in rips, currents, waves and varying depths of the ocean, rivers and lakes, and there’s more variables to be aware of and know how to respond to. Teach your children to know what to do if they get into trouble, which is remain calm, float, and raise an arm to signal for help from a lifesaver or lifeguard. Learning how to identify rips as a family is a good exercise to upskill everyone.
Swimming between the flags is especially important at surf beaches, and adults shouldn’t overestimate their abilities or underestimate the conditions. The ocean is changeable, so the gentle waves outside the flags may not stay that way. Regardless of your abilities in the water, listen to the advice of lifeguards, and if in doubt, stay out!
Telling someone where you are going and when you expect to return is vital for any aquatic activity, especially if you’re going surfing, jetskiing or boating alone. Make sure everyone on your boat is wearing a lifejacket, including adults and the skipper – it’s not enough to simply have them on board in case of emergency. If someone goes overboard, throwing something which floats (like a chilly bin) is often a good first reaction – this gives the person something to grab onto and a chance to calm down before a rescue is attempted.
If you’re looking at ways to introduce your child to the water, or to increase their water confidence, here’s some tips to try this summer:
- Be water-confident yourself. Your child will feel more comfortable in the water if you are, they will follow your lead.
- Take it slow, and gradually increase their water confidence, by slowing getting them used to being around water, and eventually in the water
- Make it fun. There are plenty of games you can play with them in the shallows at the beach, or in the pool, such as Marco Polo, What’s the time Mr Wolf? and I Spy will get your child moving, and get their mind off being in the water.
- Use floatation aids to begin with, in order to help them feel safe in the water.
As the temperatures increase, and the water gets more and more tempting, keep these simple tips in mind for you and your family. As the TV commercial used to say “have fun in the water, but do what you oughta!”