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May 2018

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My plea to parents on water safety

Over the last few weeks, I’ve met quite a few adults that have told me they cannot swim. Every time I hear that I am always so shocked. When I ask them ‘why?’ their usual response is ‘I’ve just never learnt’. But one particular person I spoke to, told me ‘my parents were too busy, there is so many life lessons a child needs to learn and swimming is just one that they never taught me to do’.

Oh wow! I didn’t even know how to respond, which is why it has brought me to write a post on this.

Teaching your child to swim should be one of the most, if not the most important life lesson

Drowning is still one of most common causes of accidental death in children and swimming is the only sport that can save your child’s life. I cannot express how important it is that your child learns to swim.

Swimming not only can save your child’s life but swimming is also an amazing form of exercise because you have to move your whole body against the resistance of the water. It builds muscle strength, endurance and cardiovascular fitness which can be so good for children in the long term.

Traveling the world, I come into contact with so much water and after becoming a qualified lifeguard I am always switched on in my surroundings. There has been more than one occasion I have been sat around the pool at hotels and beaches with my NK’s and I have had to rescue other children that have slipped off the step or got into difficulty because they couldn’t swim.

Incidents like this happen so often and young children are especially at risk – they can drown in less than 2inchs (6cm) of water. They can drown is places you would least expect it; toilet bowl, fountains, buckets, inflatable pools, sink, and small bodies of water like where rain has fallen and created a puddle on the ground.

I am appealing to you parents! If your child is able to learn to swim then please make it one of your priorities to get your child swimming. Any children over the age of 4 should learn to swim, but also children as young as 6 months are able to get in the water and could benefit from it, but check with your doctor first.

If you don’t have time to teach your children to swim, get someone to do it for you and enroll them in lessons.

It’s also a good idea to make them water wise. Talk about the water, about where is safe for them to go and where isn’t. Children should learn what is good behavior around a pool to prevent any slips or accidents. Let children know that they should contact a lifeguard or an adult if there’s an emergency.

Although no child is safe around water unsupervised whether they can swim or not, they are still at risk of drowning. Knowing your child can swim surely is so much better for your peace of mind than if they couldn’t. Any infants, toddlers and weak swimmers should have an adult swimmer within arm’s reach to provide supervision.

These are the facts!

In the time it takes to….

  • Cross a room for a towel (10 seconds), a child in a bathtub can be submerged.
  • Answer the phone (2 minutes), a child can lose consciousness.
  • Sign for a package at the front door (4-6 minutes), a child submerged in a tub or pool can sustain permanent brain damage

Water safety and hiring a Nanny…

If you are planning on hiring a Nanny or hosting an Aupair, I suggest you ensure that the person you hire is a strong swimmer. Your child will be around water every day; meaning they drink it, play in it, wash in it or are learning to swim.

Families that travel extensively, have boats, live by the beach or own a pool are especially at risk of fatal accidents with children. I am sure you would not want the guilt on your shoulders if your child got into difficulty swimming and the person caring for your child couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything to help them, because they themselves were scared of the water.

It is so important that if you are wanting to leave your child in the care of someone else, they should be able to swim.

It takes as little as 20 seconds for a child to drown and not only are toddler drownings quick, they are usually silent. Most children do not yell for help.

Swimming is such a fun sport and activity, it is a skill you will have for life and something you will never forget. Swimming is something that could take a few months to learn but something that will benefit you your entire life. Swimming is really fun but if not taken seriously then can be dangerous.

PLEASE TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO SWIM AND PLEASE SUPERVISE THEM AT ALL TIMES!

Living in Dubai

Living in Dubai has felt so different to anywhere else I have lived. Not just because of the vast desert, cactus and roaming camels, but the way of life, the law, the culture and communities that make up this incredible city.

If I could describe Dubai, I would say it is definitely a playground for the rich, where everything can be done. The biggest, the fastest, the tallest, whatever it is, you can pretty much find it here.

All over the city, construction is happening and in just 20 years, they have built some of the best businesses and tourist attractions in the world. The population has grown tremendously, and currently there are more expats living here than UAE residents. Something I love the most about Dubai, is the traditions and vibrant culture that make this city so dynamic.

Living in a country where prayer and religion is so important, has been such an eye opener to me. I have learnt that nothing stops prayer, you can be driving down the motorway and cars, trucks, lorries will be pulled over in the hard shoulder, and men/women will be on the side of the road praying on the floor. Now that seems so dangerous and in the UK that would never be allowed, but here it is, which makes it so interesting to see happening all over Dubai. Muslims pray 5 times a day and every mosque calls them to prayer at certain times. You can often be laying on the beach or walking around the mall shopping and all of a sudden you hear Adhan calling Muslims to prayer. It’s such a beautiful sound.
If you are wanting to visit a mosque, I would recommend doing it in the UAE. There are so many picturesque ones, the architecture and designs are amazing, some allow tourists to go inside. You do have to cover up before entering, there will be staff at the entrance to hand you a hijab to put on, if you aren’t wearing the correct attire.

The location of Dubai definitely has its challenges, after growing up in the countryside surrounded by lush green grass, it has been such a contrast moving to the desert with sand nearly everywhere you look. I experienced my first sand storm here, it was definitely not pretty. Visibility is low, sand and dust are blown all across the city and lingers the air, you find yourself holding your breath and walking with your eyes shut if you haven’t got a mask/goggles to put on. You do try and find yourself staying indoors and avoiding going out on those days because it can be quite dangerous and sand hitting your legs at wind speed is quite painful, but never the less experiencing a sand storm has got me another tick off my bucket list.

The hardest part I have found getting use to is the way of life, this place has one of the highest percentages of immigrants in the world, and this is the city I have realized that racism exists in so many different forms. Here it is important what country you come from, social status plays a key role like no other place I’ve been too or lived in before. It’s also the first time I’ve seen special areas allocated for ‘gold members’ and ‘women only’ in public. At attractions you will find special que lines for women only, and on public transport seating areas are divided. In Dubai there is a hierarchy and when it comes to finding a job and receiving a salary, depending on where you are from, depends on what salary you can expect and if other nationalities get priority over you for the position. Once again after growing up in the UK, where everyone is deemed equal and valued no matter where you are from, this has definitely been a real wake up call. If I could take anything away from this reality check it would be to remain humble, and never take anything for granted. I have seen and heard stories of how people here survive on the little money they earn, how they need to send it to their families. The only benefit when it comes to earing money here, is the UAE does not have any federal income tax. So, every month what you earn and work for is yours, you get to keep. But never the less, I’ve learnt that it really does matter where you are from, as that will depend on if you live to work or work to live.

Dubai isn’t what everyone says it is, yes granted there are many laws/rules that are different to other countries, but it’s not what people portray it as. Many people’s concern when traveling here, is whether or not they have to cover up. Well let me tell you, it is okay to wear normal swimwear on the beaches, you do not have to worry too much about covering up when out and about. You should always be mindful about what you will wear for the day and where you are going, but unless entering a place of worship you shouldn’t worry. About the other laws, there are some I will never understand the reasons behind such as, ‘no affection in public’, this is something I have always thought is a strange restriction, but one you must respect to risk being deported, fined or being imprisoned. Also, Dubai’s licensing laws require venues serving alcohol to be attached to a hotel or private clubs. It is illegal to drink in the street or a public space. Crime rate here is so low, I actually feel safe walking around in the dead of night than I would walking down a street in the US in broad daylight. Although I don’t make it a habit of wondering around at night alone, the point is I don’t feel I’d be in any danger if I did, beyond perhaps a rude whistle from a fellow expat spilling out of a club. Horror stories do get around on the internet, or in the news about expats who get arrested and put in prison for things westerners take for granted and their own country would see as minor incidents. The easy way to avoid this is to know the laws/rules before you go, and respect the countries wishes.

The weather is hot, hot, hot! Dubai doesn’t have four seasons, it is either winter or summer and when it’s winter, it still feels like summer. It can reach temperatures of up to 50c and for 4 months of the year most people leave the country, travelling to escape the heat. A lot of the theme parks, gardens, and outdoor amusements close during this time, as it just isn’t comfortable and everyone hibernates in the day. The malls are all air conditioned and after 4pm people disburse into the shops, cinemas and any other indoor location with an air conditioner. Every mall is awesome, each different in their own way, the Mall of the Emirates has a ski slope in it! Who wouldn’t want to ski in the desert! The Dubai mall, the biggest in the world, is one everyone has to experience at least once. The giant aquarium is one you cannot miss!

Dubai is home to the world’s tallest building, The Burj Khalifa is 830m to the tip, the views from the top are staggering. Fun fact – The tower is so tall that residents that live above the 80th floor, have to wait an extra two minutes for the sun to go down, before they can break their dawn to dusk fast during Ramadan.
The dancing fountains and light show, has to be one of the best things I have seen here. The way the water is timed so perfectly so it dances to the music is amazing, the lights and laser show that is projected onto the Burj is awesome too. You have to get there early, to get a good spot in the crowd, the atmosphere is what makes this free show all the more spectacular.

Now let’s talk about Camels!
I’m just laying on the beach minding my own business, then all of a sudden one camel, two camel comes strolling along the beach. One of them ‘casual’ moments! Of course, the ones on the beach are with their owner, he parade’s them up and down until tourists offer him money for a ride, but just having Camels lying next to your beach towel, seems so surreal. Oh, so fascinating in the moment.

I love being able to go out into the desert on safaris, having BBQs while watching the sun go down. There’s definitely something special about watching the golden sun, sink over the sand dunes. There are so many incredible things for tourists to do in Dubai, and so many opportunities for work and business growth. I kind of see Dubai as being in the centre of the world, so travelling is made so much easier which ever country you want to visit, because it seems you’re already half way there. It really has been incredible experiencing living in the UAE, it’s definitely a country that has educated me more so on culture, religion, social status and how the other half live.

Home-made Bird feeder

What you need:

  • Half a bagel
  • Peanut butter or honey
  • Bird seed
  • String

You will need to help your child cut a bagel in half. After that, get them to spread peanut butter or honey evenly on one side of the bagel.

Then, pour bird seed on top of the peanut butter/honey so it sticks and covers the spread.

Cut a piece of string, long enough to be tied around the hole of the bagel and tie a knot in the top.

Once you have done this, all that’s left to do is to find a tree outside to hang it on.

Watch the birds fly in to peck at the yummy treat you have made for them!

Top tip – While making the bird feeder with your children, it’s a nice idea to get a bird book, look at the pictures and talk about the types of birds you might see in your garden.