During the first weekend at our local public pool this year, one of the lifeguards at the mid-sized kid pool was nodding off in her chair. I pointed it out to a friend, which alerted the other lifeguard on duty. He came over and told the too-tired-teen guard to leave. “If you can’t stay awake, you can’t be here,” he told her. An undercover report by CBS showed there are other lifeguards out there without an eye on the water. Some guards were texting and reading magazines instead of watching the swimmers.
On average, 10 people die a day from unintentional drowning. But, drowning generally doesn’t happen like it does in the movies, where swimmers splash and scream for help. Swimmers in serious trouble slip under the water silently.
Mario Vittone, a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, wrote a sobering article on what drowning really looks like:
There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) — of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea it is happening (source: CDC).Think your child is an expert swimmer and couldn’t ever get in to trouble? Watch this report from NBC and you might change your mind:
Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them: “Are you alright?” If they can answer at all – they probably are. If they return a blank stare – you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents: children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.So keep your eye on your kids this summer when they are around water. There’s no substitute for vigilant parental supervision.