Garden Water Safety
Children have a natural inquisitiveness that is essential for their development in the early years, however occasionally, this can lead them into danger and there is no greater danger than that of your garden water feature, be it a pond, water butt, paddling pool, or water slide.
One of the main reasons for this is that water holds a massive attraction for children. Despite an increase in deaths in toddlers and young children in residential homes involving garden water features, they remain popular. For those people who cannot bring themselves to fill in their pond, or dispose of their water features, then measures need to be taken to make it safe for children.
Children of particular risk are toddlers and young children under the age of six and the reasons for this are clear; toddlers are increasingly mobile, yet their co-ordination and agility remains poor in comparison and of course they have no understanding of fear.
As a child develops, they begin to respond better to instruction and understand better the danger they are putting themselves in. Figures show that children that are under supervision where the adult has been either momentarily distracted or called away, have still tragically drowned, it literally only takes a few moments.
Measures need to be taken to prevent such a tragedy occurring. Constant supervision is advised for those who choose to still maintain a garden pond, as well as making the area inaccessible to the child. Fencing a pond off may not necessarily provide adequate safety, as young children will still want to be on the other side and are quite devious in their methods.
Climbing over and squeezing through tiny gaps appears to be their specialty. Never assume your garden pond is totally safe. The best solution, apart from filling the pond in and using it as a sandpit, would be to install a safety grille, or mesh.
The mesh or grille needs to be strong enough to support the weight of a child and will need to be of a grid size no greater than 80mm x 80mm, to ensure against little fingers or arms getting stuck. The fixings also need to be secure and will need to be checked to make sure that there is no risk of entrapment for the child. The fixing of the mesh or grille will need to be above the water, as figures have shown that babies and small toddlers could roll onto the mesh or grille and still drown face down, unable to get upright, in less than 300mm of water.
Take into consideration that over time, the mesh or grille may sag. Wherever possible, try and use a specialised pond guard manufacturer to buy your product. Inferior products, such as chicken wire, may give a false sense of security, as these have proven to be unsuitable. Figures show that children have drowned with this method of protection due to the fact that they have either crawled underneath, the wire has sagged greatly in the middle, or they have merely managed to pull the wire aside.
It is extremely important that regular checks for deterioration are made on any safety methods put in place and it is also strongly advised that wherever possible, you teach your child to swim at an early age.
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