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Summer Water Safety For Everyone
Today,there is a family aching from the loss of a man they loved dearly. I don't know this man, but I know he was a hero. He died saving his young niece. His mother, brother, wife and other family members were there. I know of this man was a hero because the Emergency Medical Reponders (E.M.R.'s) who were first on the scene said so.
These young professionals used every aspect of their training, but time and distance was against them.
The scenario. A family was boating at the lake. There were two boats. One boat was their own boat, the other boat was a rental from the lake marina. It's a hot summer afternoon approaching evening. They had been having a great day on the water. They are a few miles from the boat dock. The boats are in deep water that turns shallow quickly close to shore.
A little girl who can't swim very well gets over her head. It's just a guess, but I suspect she was between the beach and the boats. Her uncle goes into the water and tries to keep her afloat until he gets to shallow water. Others come to aid and get the girl, but don't realize he is having trouble. Was he is a good swimmer? Who knows, many think they are good swimmers who are not. The child gets to safety, but he can't help himself. Family begins screaming for help. People in another boat come to help. They get the unresponsive man out of the water and onto the bank. They begin CPR. They are some miles away from the dock and boat launch. The nearest life guards and E,M.R.s are half a mile beyond the dock. A dock worker is on the lake because someone in a rented boat is having trouble. He radio's into the dock. Dock workers radios the park services fire department and the lifeguard station. As soon as the call comes in responders are on the move, running to the boat at the end of the beach. The boat driver has worked on the lake the last four years and knows exactly where to go. Just days before he was on a boat in that same spot with his mother, brother, sister-in-law and their three little kids.
Another dock worker, also an E.M.R races to assist, beaches his boat as the lifeguard boat rounds the point. Time elapsed is between fifteen and twenty minutes. First E.M.R relieves the good Samaritan from his task of CPR and as the lifeguards beach. The dock worker gives report, the clock is ticking and the rotation begins to enable E.M.R.'s to continue CPR until someone with more medical training arrives and says otherwise. One guard scribes, as history is gathered and medical care is given.The defibrillator is used to get the man's heart started. After thirty minutes paramedics take charge of the man and the life guards begin to get the family members back to the dock. Some members are hysterical on the ride in. Others are quiet. The quiet ones know their loved one is gone.
Comfortable Vest For Adults
The life guards view this man as a hero. It's one thing to try to attempt to save the life of an adult, but a child is completely different. Routinely life guards are confronted with the parent who doesn't know where her child is. When you are around water there are simple safety measures that can make the difference between life and death. Accidents happen, knowing what to do in the event of an accident em;powers you to save a life.
Be alert! Know your limits and surroundings!
Don't count on life guards or other emergency personal to help. The above story was the perfect scenario with time and distance against the victim. In another instance a man who had been drinking went under. They were out of bounds, but within shouting distance of lifeguards. His friends got immediate help. The guards set up a search and found the man under a dock. Worst scenario, but time and distance of help was in his favor and he survived.
Best Flotation For Small Children I Have Found
Many trust in their own abilities to protect themselves and their families. That is their choice. By law watercraft must have life preservers, for each person in the boat, while they are on the water. Children must wear their life preservers, but adults have the option to do so or not.
Most people who are good swimmers feel they don't need to wear life preservers on a boat. I have been there. We all want a good tan without lines, or the life preserver is uncomfortable.
My suggestion to these arguments wouldn't have worked a few years ago, because life preservers used to be horrible. They were big,scratchy, ill fitting, puffy orange floating cushions. No so ,any longer.
Be safe get a nice, well fitting life vest and wear it. You don't need that much sun on your body. In my story the man could have taken off his vest and put it on the child then saved himself.
If you have ever flown the attendant always says to put on your own oxygen before helping your child. This thinking might have helped this man.
Need I really say," Drinking while baking in the sun, is a bad idea in so many ways".
Reasons to limit drinking while on a boat.
- Alcohol dehydrates you. A classic sign of dehydration is a headache.
- Alcohol impairs judgment. More than one person has gone to jail because a drunk involved them in poor choices.
- Alcohol can never fix what it broke.
Know Your Limitations When You Are Near Water
Know your limitations when you are around the water.
You seldom hear of lifeguards dying in the line of duty. Last year the first lifeguard to die in the line of duty in the 100 + years of this history of Newport Beach, California, lifeguards. He was an experienced lifeguard and the ocean was exceptionally turbulent the day he died.
Even the best swimmers can be blindsided in water.
Lifeguards are taught to know their limitations. They are taught that fear and hysteria can make even a four year old child difficult to rescue. Lifeguards know they are not Superman.
Even if you think you are Superman there are some things you can do to keep yourself and others around you safe in the water.
If you see someone thrashing in the water find out if the are playing or having trouble? It is so easy to say, "Are you OK?"
Here are some things to consider that may be helpful when the answer is no.
1.If the person is actively drowning Throw them something to grab onto. High tech is unnecessary. Is there a stick that would reach the struggling swimmer without you getting wet? Put it in front of him and pull him to safety. (Swimming pool lifeguards almost never need to go into the water because of the hooks around the pool.) Is there a life vest around? Get it in front of him to grab onto. If you are a bad aim and have more vests throw another.
Surfers are well equipped to rescue people and do so all the time using their surf boards as floats.
2. Shout for help! Make sure help on the way before you go into the water.
3. Regardless of what help is on the way grab something that floats and take it with you. Sealed ice chests almost always float these days. Never go near someone struggling in the water without something that floats they can grab onto. They will grab onto you if you are all there is.
4.Talk to the swimmer as you approach. Let them know help is on the way. Staying calm will help calm the swimmer and help you both survive.
5. Approach from behind, don't let the struggling swimmer take you under. If you go under the person struggling will try to climb you. Pull them under until they let go of you.
What's Happening Here?
Know Your Surroundings
Know the water where you plan to boat or swim. Is the water deep? Are there rocks. If you are going into water for the first time and you can not see the bottom:
- Go in slowly
- Have something on your feet
- Do not enter swiftly moving water
Water Safety Means Being Alert
The event that began this article occurred in a lake. Some times we think of swimming pools as safer than lakes or the ocean. In some respects that is true. When you are in a confined space it is easier for a lifeguard to see a struggling swimmer.
Children are so incredibly unpredictable.The dolly in the picture at the right caused concern for all the adults until the mystery was resolved.
BE ALERT AROUND WATER! Know what is happening around you. All the adults originally were concerned. It was toddler swim at the local wading pool. A little girl had been tossing her dolly down the slide every time she went down. Then suddenly the dolly was there for quite awhile. The little little girl gotten out of the pool and forgotten dolly. Everyone was relieved when dolly and child were reunited.
Test Your Water Safety Skills
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Water Water Who Can Live Without It
I most certainly can't live without water. I can survive any kind of heat with water to play in. I took my first tumble through the ocean when I was five and got slammed by a wave. I just got up and started laughing.
The reason I could laugh was I was comfortable in the water. Swim lessons and trips to the beach, with my dad,were a part of everyday life, during the summer.
At our local lakes the lifeguards do short safety courses all the time. There are also life vests available for loan. Your local lifeguard can answer any questions you have about water safety.
To learn more about water safety contact the American Red Cross.
Water is wonderful. Be safe around it PLEASE!