Safety message for youngsters

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A NEW initiative aimed at saving the lives of children is to be launched in Moreton Hall next month.

Swimming teachers Judith Lindley and Sue Brown will be enlisting the help of an otter and turtle to get their life-saving message across.

Inflatable characters Flip the otter and Float the turtle will teach children aged from five to seven how to survive if they fall into the water – by flipping on to their backs and floating.

“In under two minutes a child might drown but this is the best possible chance they have to retain some information that could save their life,” said Ms Lindley, adding, “but there’s no substitute for having parental supervision.”

Flip and Float will be launched at the Moreton Hall Health Club on February 18 and is the brainchild of Ms Brown, who has spent 25 years teaching people all around the world to swim including, most recently, tsunami victims in Sri Lanka.

“There doesn’t seem to be anything like this in place and people seem quite interested in the thought of it,” said Ms Lindley, who was involved in piloting the programme in November.

“Some children come into swimming lessons almost not ready to take lessons – if nothing else, if they never learn to swim, this is the best thing they can do,” she said.

In the UK, drowning is among the leading causes of accidental death and Ms Lindley and Ms Brown are concerned that fewer schools are offering swimming lessons to their pupils, especially given the large number of rivers and lakes in this area.

To make Flip and Float more realistic, the children involved will wear clothes in the water.

The initiative has been compared to a vaccination where ‘there’s no guarantees but it offers them the best chance’.

Top up sessions, likened to booster jabs, will also be available.

Neil Paterson, whose six-year-old daughter Rebecca took part in the scheme’s pilot, said: “I’ll do anything to give my children a chance at survival and this would give me, my wife, or whoever, time to fish them out – it’s about buying time.”