Water beckons when the sun shines - but stay alert so the children can play safely

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SOMEHOW I seem to be managing to co-ordinate my time off work to perfectly coincide with some of the best weather we have had this year.

When we had a mini heatwave in April I was off work sitting in the garden with my offspring merrily playing all around me.

And last week it happened again. I left work on Wednesday night when the weather was pleasant enough, but not exactly hot. I woke up the next day to blazing sun. So the kids and I packed up our bikes and picnic rug and joined a friend with her three young children in Whirlowbrook Hall Park.

There my eldest could cycle to her heart’s content, my son played dens with his playmates while the youngest was delighted to be able to chase the numerous fat ducks around screeching her new found words: “Quack, quack.”

But the slightly large ducks – which clearly live like kings on the many ‘snacks’ visitors throw to them – were rather put out when she started helping herself to their bread.

My only problem was the fact I managed to forget to put sunscreen on myself.

All the children were lathered head to toe in Factor 50 with hats firmly secured to heads and warnings to “play in the shade” ringing in their ears.

However, I failed to include myself in my mission.

My friend had come armed with her tiny five-week-old baby which I enjoyed cuddling very much. I protectively made sure I had her head in the shade with a muslin strategically placed over her skin. But as I did this the sun beat down on my bare shoulders and back without me even noticing.

Despite this, the kids and I spent the next day also out in the blazing hot sun!

A friend had invited us to Millhouses Park to enjoy the rather wonderful Splash – where kids can enjoy interactive water toys for free.

So I togged them out in various swim outfits and slapped on the sun screen before heading to the park armed with a raft of towels.

And the water theme carried on all day with a paddling pool.

As soon as it was up the three offspring immediately dived in – the little one even before she had her clothes off.

I meanwhile enjoyed sitting – in the shade – doing very little other than lazily keeping a watchful eye as they splashed in the pool. A few times the little one did slip under the water as she reached too far to try and grab a floating toy.

I scooped her back up and set her on her feet without a second thought.

But what it did bring home to me was just how easily a child can drown and how watchful and alert you do have to be.

There is no way on earth that I would go into the house leaving any of the children unattended. It can take less than a minute for them to drown.

n For more information on how to make sure your children play safely visit: http://www.rospa.com/leisuresafety/adviceandinformation/watersafety/default.aspx or http://www.capt.org.uk/safety-advice/keeping-your-child-safe-drowning.