The world is getting closer and closer to normal, and this summer is looking to be the first time in over a year that we get to truly be social and have a sense of normal. I am personally looking forward to getting together outside with friends and have my daughter, Reilly, now 16 months old, meet her extended family and friends. My name is Kevin, and I don’t normally write our monthly blog, but since it is water safety month, and I’m a new parent, I thought I would give it a shot.
I little bit about myself. I have been a lifeguard since I was 15 and a lifeguard instructor for the Red Cross since I was 16. Now at 33, I have seen I lot in my career and I have learned that it’s more about prevention when it comes to water safety. So, let me take you back a few years and tell you a story from my time as a lifeguard at the Hellertown Pool.
Lifeguarding at the Hellertown pool are some of my favorite memories growing up, as pretty much all my closest friends were lifeguards as well; however, it was not easy by any means. With hundreds of people in your section alone, it was a daunting task. I remember guarding down at the deep end at the slide area. That day there was a family with a little boy who had to be no older than 3. The parents were not paying attention to him as well as they should. Before you know it, he had walked from the other side of the pool and started climbing the steps to the slide. Luckily, I saw him halfway up and was able to get to him before he slid down. The mother was very grateful, and I hope learned an important lesson about watching her children at the pool.
You see, what most parents don’t understand is just because there is a lifeguard on duty at the pool, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to watch your child. You are the best line of defense for your children. Lifeguards, as well trained as we are, don’t always see it all. So, get in the pool and play and watch the same trick (repeatedly). Your children want you to be in the pool anyway.
If you don’t want to get in the pool, make sure your children are enrolled in swim lessons and know their own limits. And be sure an adult is always watching them. Swim-in Zone has water watcher badges at the entrance. These badges are for an adult to wear while the children are playing in the pool. While wearing the badge, you promise to put everything else aside, the phone & that book you were reading or even the conversation you were having, and just watch the children, so they are safe. These are great for when you are at summer parties. I don’t know how many times I have been at a party and I end up being the lifeguard because no one else is truly watching the children in the pool. I have one final story to leave you with.
A couple of summers ago, my cousin was having a get-together with friends and family (I wasn’t there). They have a pool right outside on their back porch. As the night went on everyone was enjoying the party and all the kids were out of the pool. But his daughter saw a toy in the water and was reaching for it and slipped into the pool. She didn’t know how to swim and sunk to the bottom. You see, drowning is silent, especially with small children. No one heard her go in and no one saw her either. Until my cousin finally saw her at the bottom. He dove in and got her out. She came up coughing, but was, fortunately, okay. When he got out of the pool, he asked everyone who was watching her?!
At parties, you think there is enough people around that someone will see or hear something. But that isn’t always the case. That is why you must make sure someone is always watching the pool, even if the kids have left the area and the party is winding down.
I want to take some time to leave you with a few additional things if you have a home pool:
- If a child is missing, check the pool first!
- Install a pool isolation fence
- It should be at least 4ft high with a self-latching gate
- Install alarms on the doors leading to the pool and even in the pool
- They make water surface alarms that go off if something disturbs the surface of the water
- Learn the signs of drowning and learn CPR
- Enjoy the water with your child. Get in there, play games, and just be a kid again too!