Summer Water Safety

So nice weather finally seems to be coming, most kids are looking forward to water fun in the sun. While I can’t wait for nice weather I feel that I should write a post about water safety. Believe it or not ladies but I was a lifeguard in college. 😛 I know shocking lol. I never really lost my training after I stopped being a lifeguard, last summer I would find my self scanning the water at the beach while my husband played with our daughter in the water. I never really thought about sharing water safety with anyone because of course we love our kids and are watching them while they play in the water, but something happened to us last summer that chilled my blood and made me realize that the average parent is not trained in water safety and knows what drowning looks like. I have decided to share the story and what to look for while at the beach and the pool and do my part to make it a safe summer full of fun for our MCDM families.

Last summer while at a man-made lake at lake Elmo park reserve, the lifeguards called a swimmers break. All the kids left the water and played in the sand while waiting to renter the water. After about 15  mins a man came over the loud speakers informing everyone to wait until the lifeguards got back to the lifeguard stands before re-entering the water. At the sound of the announcement two children ran in to the water a few yards down the beach from me, no doubt thinking that the swimmers break was over. The mom started to scold the kids and told them to come back to the beach. The younger child listened to his mother while the older girl (about 8 years old) ignored her mother and swam a little deeper out.

Now this child was the only person in the water watch by hundreds of people. My husband was playing in the sand with our daughter while I watched this little girl start to bob. Mind you I was yards away from her (just thinking about this brings my heart in to my throat). As a lifeguard I quickly realized that she was struggling to stay up. I took maybe 30 seconds to look around to see if anyone was going to react, no one, everyone just was watching. That’s when I took off running in the water to save her. As soon as I hit the water running I heard a mans voice yell “she is drowning” which started a chain reaction of five or six dads who were closer run in to the water and saved the girl.

I quickly realized to the average person that the little girl probably looked like she was playing. Most people think that when someone is drowning here is a lot of splashing and gasping. Not true. Bobbing is the most common sign that someone is struggling to stay above the water and are usaully not above the water line long enough to take a breath of air. Here is what you need to look for.

Drowning does not look like drowning – Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard’s On Scene Magazine, described the instinctive drowning response like this:”

  1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.

Now you know what to look for what do you do if you save a drowning victim.

Got this great description off of parent website on what to do:

Your first priority is to get a drowning child out of the water as quickly as possible. If she isn’t breathing, place her on her back on a firm surface. Immediately begin rescue breathing, below, and have someone call for help. Don’t assume it’s too late to save a child’s life — even if she’s unresponsive, continue performing CPR and do not stop until medical professionals take over.

1. To open your child’s airway,

gently tilt her head back with one hand, and lift her chin with the other. Put your ear to the child’s mouth and nose, and look, listen, and feel for signs that she is breathing.

2. If your child doesn’t seem to be breathing>

Infants under age 1: Place your mouth over infant’s nose and lips and give two breaths, each lasting about 1? seconds. Look for the chest to rise and fall. Children 1 and older: Pinch child’s nose and seal your lips over her mouth. Give two slow, full breaths (1? to 2 seconds each). Wait for the chest to rise and fall before giving the second breath.

3 If the chest rises,

check for a pulse (see number 4). If the chest doesn’t rise, try again. Retilt the head, lift the child’s chin, and repeat the breaths.

4. Check for a pulse

Put two fingers on your child’s neck to the side of the Adam’s apple (for infants, feel inside the arm between the elbow and shoulder). Wait five seconds. If there is a pulse, give one breath every three seconds. Check for a pulse every minute, and continue rescue breathing until the child is breathing on her own or help arrives.

5. If you can’t find a pulse

Infants under age 1: Imagine a line between the child’s nipples, and place two fingers just below its centerpoint. Apply five half-inch chest compressions in about three seconds. After five compressions, seal your lips over your child’s mouth and nose and give one breath. Children 1 and older: Use the heel of your hand (both hands for a teenager or adult) to apply five quick one-inch chest compressions to the middle of the breastbone (just above where the ribs come together) in about three seconds. After five compressions, pinch your child’s nose, seal your lips over his mouth, and give one full breath. All ages: Continue the cycle of five chest compressions followed by a breath for one minute, then check for a pulse. Repeat cycle until you find a pulse or help arrives and takes over.

Note: These instructions are not a substitute for CPR training, which all parents and caretakers should have.

Now that you know what to look for and what to do, go have fun in the water with your little ones and feel better knowing you know what to do in case of an emergency.

Happy family time 🙂

Leticia Meyer