Garden Water Safety – Advice and Information

Drowning in ponds and paddling pools accounts for the highest number of deaths among children in the garden. It is a terrifying fact that babies and small children can drown in as little as 5cm/2in of water.

Older children and adults automatically hold their breath when their head goes under water, but small children and babies do exactly the opposite and take a deep breath in order to scream. Instead of getting a lungful of air, they get a lungful of water, and so drown.

So be aware that if you have water in your garden it is potential a fatal hazard. Some water features such as small ponds and pools, can be filled in, eliminating the risk altogether. This is not practical or even possible for large ponds, swimming pools or streams, in which case you must take precautions to reduce the danger.

Once drained a shallow pond may be turned into a sunken herb garden or sandpit which will need a lid to stop it being flooded by rain. Larger ponds make excellent play areas once they are drained and filled with bark, wood chippings or sand.

If you do not want to drain your pool, cover it with rigid wire mesh. There are many makes on the market which are robust enough to take the weight of a child. Many are coloured green to be unobtrusive and large aquatic plants will grow through the holes in the mesh.

Swimming pools should be fitted with strong, child-proof covers and fenced off. Put a child-resistant lock on the gate and never leave children unsupervised in the pool, even if they are able to swim. Don’t allow unsupervised play in a paddling pool either and when the children have finished playing, empty it and turn it upside down to prevent it filling up with rainwater.

Gardens in a river-side setting are extremely desirable, but risks to children are obvious. The only solution is to erect a stout fence. This need not be an eyesore as you can disguise it by growing shrubs and flowers in front of it or planting climbers which can be trained up and along it. In this way it becomes an attractive feature until the children are old enough for it to be taken down.