SAFETY FIRST: Michael Gaskin urges parents to maintain children's swimming lessons during the cooler months.
SAFETY FIRST: Michael Gaskin urges parents to maintain children's swimming lessons during the cooler months. Contributed

Lessons are lifesavers

ALTHOUGH the winter months are approaching, temperatures in Emerald from June to August typically hit highs in the mid-20s, meaning water sports and recreational swimming are year-round options and attitudes to water safety must remain vigilant.

Michael Gaskin, president of Emerald Seals swimming club, said this week that even though temperatures would start to drop, the message was "to be vigilant at all times, especially with the little ones”.

Mr Gaskin, who "absolutely” urged parents to maintain swimming classes during the summer months - the pool closes over winter - said Emerald locals continued to swim in the rivers, creeks and waterholes, especially after winter rain.

"I'd encourage people from day one to do swimming lessons.

"It's all about water safety, getting kids used to the water and learning to respect the water.”

He said that as the weather cooled, it was easy to "take our eye off the ball”.

"We should be especially vigilant around toddlers and babies.

"A toddler can drown in a bucket.

"Don't leave them unattended in bath tubs.

"Don't be complacent.”

Mr Gaskin said it was vital adults were always aware of where young children were.

"If you're an adult and there are kids around, you've got a moral duty to make sure the children are safe.

"Whether it's summer or winter, the same water safety rules apply.

"It's about being responsible and looking after each other.”

Teenagers especially, Mr Gaskin said, should be aware of dangers when swimming in creeks, rivers and waterholes.

"Don't swim in muddy water and if you can't see what's at the bottom, just don't dive into that water.

"If it's not safe or you're not sure, don't do it.

"Never jump or dive into water where you can't see the bottom, especially where there's been floods.

"Don't jump off bridges - there's signs there for a reason.

"You don't know if there's a submerged object and you don't want to be seriously injured or worse.

"There's no grey area around that ... just don't do it.”

Mr Gaskin said young people needed to be aware of the consequences of their actions, they needed to take note of their surroundings, and they needed to ensure they didn't succumb to peer pressure if a situation or activity wasn't safe.