Last week was National Drowning Prevention Week, and the Lifesaving Society (LS) was busy emphasizing safety in all water activities. For the Carman Dufferin Pool lifeguards, drowning prevention is their job, and one they train to improve at every shift.
Cassie Wiebe, manager of the pool says the lifeguards have monthly staff training sessions.
“We practice a lot of situations and scenarios, and also do skill work,” said Wiebe. “For example, we practice getting people out of the water if there’s a spinal injury.”
“Each pool will have a different place to exit the person from and get the spine board from.”
The Lifesaving Society has a few key themes they encourage people to follow.
“The theme they are really promoting this year is ‘within arm’s reach,’” said Wiebe. “You need to be within arm’s reach of your child at all times. That does mean something different for a grade six student than it does for a kindergartener.”
Water safety applies to everyone, from novice to strong swimmers.
“Make sure you are never swimming alone,” said Wiebe. “Whether you’re an adult or a five-year-old kid, you should always be swimming with someone else, not relying only on lifeguards to keep you safe.”
LS states “26 per cent of drowning deaths happen when swimming alone.”
Before cannonballing into the water at any pool, Wiebe encourages people to stop and read the pool rules.
“Different pools have different rules and danger zones,” she said. “People who are new to the pool should review the rules with their kids before they go in the water.
“Our danger zones are the deep end and the bottom of one of our slides. It can be dangerous for little kids that think they can touch the bottom there.”
Other themes mentioned by the Lifesaving Society focus on open water. One is about being boat smart.
“The law only requires you to have enough life jackets for people on the boat, but they emphasize wearing the life jackets when boating,” said Wiebe.
LS reports that “not wearing a lifejacket or PFD (personal floatation device) was a factor in 82 per cent of boating deaths.”
Most importantly, swimmers should develop skills to increase their safety in the water.
“A lot of drownings can be prevented if someone can tread water for one minute, or swim 50 metres,” said Wiebe.