My amazing Aquatics Volunteer from my Aquatics Director days recently posted this picture on Facebook. She suggested donating to a local YMCA to help a child in need learn how to swim. Although I do not work for the Y anymore it still holds a special place in my heart. Both of my parents are not so good at swimming – so they decided to get us in the pool at a young age; my sister and I have been swimming since we were about 6 months old. We took lessons as little kids and then we swam competitively – all the way through College for me. My career was in aquatics and I still love to teach people to swim because I think it is a very important skill to have. However I am a bit nutty when it comes to child safety in an aquatics environment. I am also a bit nutty about Lifeguard behavior in an aquatics environment (note: I’m not about to sit here and type that I was a stellar lifeguard blah blah blah because I will admit that I totally could have done better and that I was lucky). I absolutely cannot stand going sometimes and I try so hard to let it not bother me but I often would almost rather there be a sign saying “swim at your own risk”. This may seem a bit morbid but I tell Troy that I am going to die drowning – I have this crazy dream that I have a heart attack in the pool and no one notices simply because I am a good swimmer and I get brushed off and ignored because of it. Yet little do these lifeguards know that heart disease runs in my family – one of my cousins had a heart attack at a young age! Don’t believe that this kind of crazy stuff happens? Check it out here on The Redwoods Group website. PLEASE – take a moment and read some of the articles – take a moment and watch some of the videos! Take a moment and properly educate yourself on Aquatics Safety!
Don’t get me wrong, I want you all to enjoy swimming but I want you to be safe! Especially with children! Here are some tips from me based off of personal experience:
* CHILDREN SHOULD NOT GO INTO HOT TUBS! Children’s bodies do not regulate to temperature the way an adults does and they can become over heated very quickly! Also, watch out if you are a teen, pregnant, elderly, history of heart disease, obese, thin, etc – know your body, listen to it properly. I was on call for an incident of a teenage girl passing out coming out of a hot tub (she had only been in a few minutes) the way she landed caused her earring to get stuck and it tore her ear so it was just dangling (she had to have cosmetic surgery). I can’t even begin to tell you how many calls I’ve heard or been a part of where people have passed out or gone into cardiac distress, etc because of hot tubs. So please – be careful and listen to your body and DO NOT let your children go in – it’s not worth the risk!
* If you cannot pass a swim test you should not be going down slides or off diving boards – I’m not talking about water parks folks I’m talking about your every day rec pools that have diving boards or slides. I often heard the oh but I’m standing here to catch him excuse from parents. Those same parents are the ones that have been treated for broken noses because of how the child hit them and also the child had to be rescued because the parent wasn’t able to catch him.
* Pop the blow up water wings. That’s right folks, don’t even waste your money on them! I have countless stories of water wings deflating on children and them having to be rescued. I suggest instead getting a Puddle Jumper – they are super cute and the best thing is that they are Coast Guard Approved! Note: if it isn’t a Coast Guard Approved device then DO NOT waste your money on it!
* DO NOT stand on kick boards – yep I’ve seen broken noses, broken jaws from these.
*DO NOT play hold your breath games – did you read anything on The Redwoods Group website yet? Not breathing is NOT COOL!
So what do you do if you’re an aquatics safety nut like me? Try not to go too nutty around a pool – ENJOY the pool (the Ocean is a completely different beast that I’m not even going to touch today). Be safe! If Lifeguards are around – make sure they’re doing their job – report it if they are not – show that you’re serious about safety (not in a nutty way, in a polite way). Sadly in a faux safe environment it’s only a matter of time until someone gets seriously injured or dies. Also, know proper safety procedures and follow the rules. Hey Lifeguards – be able to kindly explain those rules and why they are necessary. Also Lifeguards, have good communication with parents – this is tough when it comes to exceptional children. So please take the time to acknowledge and know the folks that come into your facility – it’ll make your job much easier.
I know this was a bit of a tough love post but it’s some serious stuff and sadly too many people die each year in pools and many of the deaths and especially many of the serious injuries and accidents could have been prevented for many different reasons. So again ENJOY the water but PLEASE do so SAFELY!