Melbourne mum-of-three Dee Thakkar was looking forward to some kid-free time while holidaying with her family and friends at Bintan Island in Indonesia. She and her husband had enrolled their three kids – Angad, then six, and twins Kabir and Krish, then four, into their resort’s kids’ club.
However, as Dee was dropping her kids off, she checked the kids’ club activities itinerary and noticed they would be swimming for part of the day. Something told Dee that she needed to stay close by.
While Dee’s husband, Prashant, and their friends were ready to kick off their kid-free day, Dee decided to hang back and remain by the pool where the kids’ club was stationed.
Mum instinct kicked in
Dee admits that she knew her kids weren’t strong swimmers yet and, when she noticed there wasn’t a lifeguard, she knew she needed to keep an eye on them herself. Just in case.
Call it mum’s instinct because, after half an hour of playing, all three of her boys ended up in the deep end, pushing each other down as they tried to keep afloat.
“They jumped on the slide and came down and went in the water but didn’t come back up. They were pushing down on each other to get up. I was so scared to see them in the water, not coming out,” Dee told 9Honey.
It was Dee that ended up rescuing her boys. She jumped into the pool and pulled them all out.
“When they came out they were all pink and blue, because they had been pushing down on each other to come out themselves.”
Her children were slightly shaken and remained afraid of the water for quite some time. The experience left Dee struggling to eat and sleep for weeks.
“I was petrified, I couldn’t hold on to myself for the next few days. It was like a nightmare, I couldn’t sleep or eat. If I hadn’t been sitting there… just my gut instinct to watch them. If I’d gone to do the activities (with friends) I would have lost my kids.”
While she brought it up with the hotel management, she was told the woman running the activities was a new trainee and wasn’t issued with an apology.
The experience has prompted Dee to open up a JUMP! swim school next month. She also shares her story to remind other parents that kids’ clubs may not come with the safety standards that we would like and expect.
“You place your trust in them, they should have the responsibility to keep kids safe around water and other activities. If they’re offering the facilities, make sure they’re capable of running these safely,” she cautioned.
Water and pool safety
With summer approaching, it’s important that we give ourselves a refresher course on water safety, whether at home, in the backyard, at a public beach or pool or anywhere else where there’s water. Just last week two boys under 10 drowned in South Australia- one in a public pool and another in a bathtub.
Our best defense as parents is to apply these four safety action points any time our children are in or around water:
Actively supervise children around water. Limit distractions when the kids are playing in the water including mobile phones.
Another important thing is to nominate who is watching the children in the pool. Often, especially at parties or gatherings, adults will all be nearby but no one is the designated “supervisor”.
Take the time to point out who is on ‘pool watching duties’ and rotate this role around. This is also the case for parents on bathtime duties – never assume the other parent is doing it. Communicate and be clear.
Restrict children’s access to water. If you do have a backyard pool, make sure you have a council-approved pool fence and a gate that self-closes. Remove any pool toys, chairs, benches, etc that could act as a ‘step’ to get into the pool or open the gate.
In addition to the backyard pool, there are other water safety considerations around the house. Bathtubs are a big one. Even large eskies can be problematic for curious toddlers as can water fountains, open drains, dams, water tanks and buckets. Wading pools should also be fenced if they are over 30cm in depth.
Another important thing to remember is that inflatable pool toys can be dangerous as well. Read this mum’s warning after her son nearly drowned under an inflatable toy.
Teach children water safety skills. You’d be surprised how many parents admit they are not confident in their children’s water skills. Plenty of swim schools offer summer courses. If money is an issue, take a look at Swim it Forward where you can apply for free swimming lessons for your kids. More information is here.
Learn how to respond in the case of an emergency. Have a read of St John’s First Aid Guide which goes through the motions of what to do if you come across an emergency water situation.
Swimsuit colour chart
Another useful resource is this swimsuit colour chart which showcases what each colour of togs looks like underwater in both a lake and public pool. Orange, pink and yellow swimsuits were the most visible.