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Eight ways to keep babies and toddlers water safe

The team at Water Safety New Zealand have this advice to share.

1. Constant active adult supervision at all times

Always keep babies and toddlers within arms' reach around water. It takes less than a minute for a child to drown. In 2017 six under fives lost their lives in preventable drowning incidents.

2. If you're in a group, have an active adult supervision roster

Don't rely on older children to supervise younger ones in, on or around water. Constant active adult supervision is required at all times.

3. Identify water hazards in and around the home.

Ensure your pool is properly fenced and complies with the safety requirements under the new pool safety legislation that came into effect on 1 January 2017.

Ensure your pool has properly working safety latches. Empty water from unused paddling pools, buckets and containers after use and ensure you have a safely fenced play area. Also when on holiday check for water hazards and ensure pool gates are secure and locked at all times.

4. Use your Water Safety bathmat at bath times

We work with Plunket to supply bathmats to new parents to keep our toddlers and babies safe at bath time. The bathmats stop your child from slipping and reinforce the message that you should NEVER leave your baby or toddler unsupervised in the bath even to answer the phone.

5. Avoid distraction

Put your phone away when supervising children around water. Their lives are in your hands and their safety requires your full attention. A child can drown in the time it takes to read a text message.

6. Teach your children water safety behaviour

As soon as they are old enough to understand, teach your children things like: ‘Never go near the water unless you’re with a grown up’. It is important our children are taught that while water is to be enjoyed, it must also be respected. It is imperative they are taught about the risks and dangers associated with water based activities.

7. Lifejackets

These are essential on a boat, must fit snuggly and have a crotch strap. Lifejackets should be worn whenever your child is around water as accidental immersions are a leading cause of preventable drowning fatalities in New Zealand.


8. Support your child and give them enjoyable and positive early experiences around water

It is important to begin your child's aquatic education early and is as simple as taking them to a pool for a fun splash around. It is crucial that every New Zealander can learn to enjoy the water from an early age so they can learn essential aquatic skills to keep them safe.


Lives can be destroyed when babies and toddlers are not actively supervised around water



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Eight ways to keep babies and toddlers water safe


Under-five drownings

20 years of data shows home Under Fives drowning deaths reducing. Twenty years ago, in 2000, the average rate for Under Fives drowning was 12 children per year. Of these, there were an average of eight (67%) who drowned around the home environment which includes baths, pools, buckets and other vessels. In 2019, the average rate for Under Five drownings was four per year, of which two (50%) occurred in the home environment. 


Keep baby safe with a Bathmat

The Plunket ‘water safety’ bathmat, is supported by Water Safety New Zealand. Bathmats are also delivered to whanau through iwi and Well Child Tamariki Ora providers. Bathmats are delivered to parents of infants five to seven months old. Approx 30,000 bathmats are delivered annually to whanau across the country.

Always use your Plunket Bathmat when bathing baby and be water safe.

Water Safety Around the Home

Your undivided attention when your child is around water could be the difference between fun, memorable, special bonding times - or tragedy.

Water Safety New Zealand is pleased to be partnering with Protector Aluminium promoting water safety around the home. Our messages are simple:

  • Make your home water safe by removing or isolating all potential water hazards
  • Pool fencing/barriers are mandatory and must be inspected every three years. Your local council will enforce this and will issue infringement and / or fix notices if required
  • Safety covers must be used as barriers for spa pools and hot tubs.

Protector Aluminium pool fencing is available at Bunnings. 

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