• Water safety tips
• What to watch for
When hosting an event near a pool, river, or body of water, safety should be a key element in the planning phase. Not all water areas will have active lifeguards on duty, and it may benefit your group to employ professional water safety personnel or gather a group of diligent volunteers to act as ‘Water Safety Watchers.’
Whether you are planning for your group alone or their families, Jason Arthur, Director of Acquatics from the Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, OH shared some water safety tips:
• Encourage children to wear a life jacket. Many public pools and waterparks provide life jackets for your use free of charge and it’s better to be on the safe side if your child is not a confident swimmer.
• Stay hydrated. Swimming and playing takes a lot of energy, especially during the hot summer months. Drink plenty of water or sports drinks and rest in a cool location.
• Forget the bling. Before heading to the beach, pool or waterpark, avoid swimsuits that have ties, grommets, or decorations that could get caught on something during water activities.
• Skip the flip-flops. Look for sandals with a heel strap or a full-coverage, slip-on water shoe that will stay in place both in and out of the water.
• Too much sun is no fun. Be sure to limit your exposure during the peak hours of 12:00 pm-3:00 pm and reapply waterproof/sweat-proof sunscreen every 80 minutes.
• Take a CPR course. Knowing these skills can be important in any environment. This is a skill we all can benefit from – on land and around water.
• Read all of the signs before going on a waterslide, pool, or attraction. Make sure children meet the posted requirements. If you have questions about an attraction, ask an employee at the facility.
• If you see someone struggling in the water, call for help. Remember “Reach or Throw, Don’t Go!” Even professionally trained lifeguards don’t enter the water without having the proper flotation devices to keep themselves safe.
So, what does trouble in the water or drowning look like? Many have an image of flailing arms and cries for help, but the reality of it is very different. Flailing is a sign of aquatic distress, when someone realizes they are in trouble yet still has the mental and lung capacity to call for help. When they lose that capacity, and really are drowning, they don’t flail. Instinctually a human being will move their arms as if they are trying to pull themselves from the water, getting their mouths to the surface of the water to take a breath. An adult can struggle like this for up to 60 seconds.
Signs you, your group, and your ‘Water Safety Watchers’ should be aware of:
1. Most drowning people are unable to call for help. If they are having trouble getting breath, they will be unable to speak.
2. A drowning person’s mouth will sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. This happens quickly, as the individual is trying to exhale and inhale before they go under again.
3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Instinct forces arms to be extended laterally, pressing down on the water’s surface allowing the body to quickly lift their mouth up for a breath.
4. Instinctive Drowning Response dictates that drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arms, making them unable to wave, move toward a wall or rescuer, or reach out for rescue equipment.
Pools and waterparks add great fun to any event, plan for safety and wade in safely.