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Hertfordshire couple Chris and Siobhan Pearman are asking parents to ensure their children are safe near water - and pool owners to ensure their water features are child-proof.
On the 31st of July 2011, their 2 year-old son Ryan Pearman managed to get into a neighbouring garden - and thinking a swimming pool cover was solid - drowned when he got on top of it - enveloping him and covering him from sight.
Chris and Siobhan Pearman were attending a family pre-wedding party on a sunny afternoon when Ryan managed to get into a neighbouring unfenced garden - and each parent thought he was with the other - and only in a matter of minutes, it was too late.
Chris and Siobhan told Heart: "Ryan was a very special, happy, funny and loving little boy who adored his two brothers. There are no words to describe how painful it is for all us to live without him. Our lives hopes and dreams for the future changed forever that day. All the first achievements you look forward to for your your are for us great sadness for what will never be".
Siobhan added: "Until this accident we did not realise how dangerous some of the commonly used pool covers can be. Some covers give the impression of being solid to a child, but of course they are not. Ryan hated water; he wouldn't even use the paddling pool at home, and if he had seen there was water under that cover, we're quire sure he would not have gone near it. There are pool and pond covers available that are secure and will take the weight of a small child or animal. Our lives would be very different if one of these had been used."
Siobhan concluded: "If our tragedy helps raise awareness of these kinds of dangers, or can lead to the introduction of regulations about the responsibility of owners to fence off or cover swimming pools securely, as exist in many other countries, hopefully our loss may help prevent this happening to another child and family. Ryan would want us to try".
Hertfordshire County Council and the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Board are reminding parents to keep you and your loved ones safe in and around water this summer:
- Before you or your children swim in any kind of water, take time to check the depth, flow and layout of the water
- At home, always use self-closing gates, safety nets, fences and locks to prevent children from gaining access to pools of water
- Children can drown in adjust a few inches of water so make sure you empty containers of water such as paddling pools and buckets of water immediately after use
- Never leave children unattended in water, whether they're swimming in a pool or even in the bath
- Make sure you and your children always wear support aids such as water wings and lifejackets if you are on the water or at the water's edge. At least 22% of people who drown fall into the water by accident
- If your children cannot swim, try to book lessons for them during the school holidays or at weekends. If you cannot, there are plenty of leisure centres that offer lessons too
- Even if you do not have children of your own you should still consider having safety measures in place at your home as visitors also need to be kept safe.
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