Be water aware round the home

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Drowning accidents can happen in a split second both in the home. As we all spend more time staying safe together at home during the current pandemic, the National Fire Chiefs Council urge people to take some time to check you have safety measures in place to help protect your loved ones.

We spoke to Lucy Herd about the tragedy that changed her and her family’s life.

Lucy was at home in the Lake District when her toddler Jack, 23 months, wandered into their garden. She had after taken her eye off him for just a matter of seconds while she answered the telephone.

He managed to scale a four-and-a-half foot high dry stone wall to access a pond where he drowned in August 2010.

'As a mum my world died the day Jack died,' Lucy said. 'It was every mother's worst nightmare: I took my eyes off Jack for those split moments and he wandered away from my protection.'

Just months after the loss of Jack, Lucy decided to use her grief to make positive changes to so Jack’s legacy would live on. She works to raise awareness of the risks of drowning.

'I don't really remember the days straight after Jack's death, I remember feeling a pain like no other, I can honestly say my heart physically hurt and that hurt is still there but trying to make a positive heals me slightly.”

Pond Safety Advice

  • If you or family carers such as grandparents have ponds in their gardens, consider filling them.
  • If this is not an option consider a cover for the pond such as a grille, which should sit above the water and be strong enough to support the full weight of a child. (covers such as chicken wire are not suitable)
  • Try and make sure you pond is easily visible from house and areas of the garden.
  • Don’t leave children unsupervised near a pond.
  • Do your neighbours have ponds? Make sure your garden and their garden is secure – an inquisitive child may find their way out of your garden.
  • Securely fence the area off and have a lockable gate.
  • Keep ponds clear of weeds and edges maintained.
  • Remember that safety measures such as fencing and grilles are not a guarantee that a pond area is safe.

Other advice to consider

  • A child can drown in a small amount of water. Check the garden for water containers where water might have collected – make sure they are empty and upturned.
  • Make sure water butts are covered and secure.
  • If you use a paddling pool in warm weather make sure you fully empty when you’ve finished playing and never leave children unsupervised while using it.
  • Keep a close eye on the bathtub when you are filling it and empty it as soon as you’ve finished bathing.
  • Make sure your family is first aid trained and know what to do in the event of an accident.
  • Young children must be actively supervised. This can be especially important when a number of adults are present, please don’t assume someone will spot a wandering child.

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Just six months after the loss of Jack, Lucy began her work to honour Jack’s memory and has successfully petitioned for a change in the bereavement law for working parents. She successfully campaigned for Jack’s law – the legal right for 2 weeks statutory leave. If like Lucy you have suffered a bereavement and woulld like to talk and share your experience with others, Lucy also runs 'Grief and a cuppa ' on facebook.

Lucy has also worked with RLSS highlight the dangers of drowning both in the home and beyond and across many age groups. You can follow Lucy Herd on social media by searching the twitter handle @Jacks_Rainbow