Life Jackets Save Lives (In pools too)

Most of us have heard the saying Life Jackets Save Lives, the slogan is very common among the boating community. Not having enough Life jackets when out on a boat carries a heavy fine and most boaters understand that when they go out on the boat they better have the allotted amount of jackets on board. The boating community now a days is inundated with information regarding proper boating safety and life jackets is on the top of the list, if you are not aware of it when you first buy a boat your fellow friend at the Marina will give you a quick lesson as to why you must have one (stories of capsizing boats, man overboard or coast guard and marine patrol fines are common). But what if I told you that life jackets are as equally important around a pool as they are around a boat?  Pools can be fun , but also dangerous, specially to non swimmers, the duty of watching children in the pool cannot involve any type of distraction, this means , no phone, no book, no socializing, no other chore but watching the children in the water, a task most non professional Lifeguards can do now a days.Drowning is the number one cause of death among children under the age of 4 years of age, with the majority of children drowning in backyard pools many under the “supervision” of their parents, who were not trained to supervise water activities. Uninterrupted watching of a water activity is not an easy task, it is something that needs to be shared even when all the safety measures are in place. So besides having the adequate supervision needed for the aquatic activity make sure you have enough Coast Guard Approved Life jackets for your  family and guests. In due time the pool industry will hopefully mandate the pro active safety measure that the boating industry learned early on and also mandate public pools to have an allotted number of life jackets, but in the mean time that doesn’t mean you can’t if you own a backyard pool.

Kenneth A. Soler

Aquatic Safety Consultant

Aquatic Risk Management Group

 

 

Sail the Caribbean but beware NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY

Sail care free is what most cruise ships slogans portray, but yet with water activities all around , care free is the last thing (mainly) parents want to be, with drowning being leading cause of injury death for children ages 1 to 4 sailing the seas care free can be and has turned out to be a dangerous activity.  This past summer I went on a lovely 6 day cruise around the Caribbean. The dinning was exquisite, the shows were excellent, the drinks plentiful, the service was impeccable and the safety well was great, till I visited the pool and saw that there was NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY.  The list of jobs on board are endless they have bartenders, deck attendants, people in every corner making sure your hands are clean (washy, washy, they sing), youth counselors, child care staff, retail staff, office jobs, photographers  and countless other jobs on the ship and yet still no Lifeguards on Duty. As an Aquatics professional, I know that many parents do not fully understand the dangers of having their children around the water, combine that with a crowded pool, unlimited drinking packages, live entertainment, and countless other distractions and the danger is magnified. It is no wonder why we keep hearing about these unnecessary tragedies happening on the high seas, slapping a No Lifeguard on Duty sign is like telling your guests that they should read the instructions on how to evacuate a ship correctly and then hope it all goes well if a tragedy were to occur, yet all cruise ships go into great efforts to make sure that all their guests are accounted for and present during the safety demonstrations. So why is pool safety falling behind and how many tragedies will happen in the high seas before we look into this issue seriously?

I wonder if it is a budget issue, do cruise agencies think this is going to be a budget line item so significant that they cannot afford it?  Lifeguard Training through the American Red Cross is roughly about $300 a year, per Lifeguard and pay rates hover around $9 to $12 an hour, considering that most ships have two pools, the cost to have two Lifeguards per pool would be under $3000 for a six day cruise a small fee to pay for an added level of safety. Thus far, Disney Cruise lines are the only ships with Lifeguards on Duty, I wonder what it is going to take for all other cruise agencies to follow, this practice.

Kenneth A. Soler

In the time it takes to throw in a load of laundry

It’s that quick, in the time it takes to load your dirty clothes into the laundry. Miami’s many lakes, backyard swimming pools, lakes and canals are a great danger. So much that we lead the country in accidental drowning rates. So what is it you can do?

  1. Pick swimming sites with lifeguards. …
  2. Learn basic swimming skills. …
  3. Use certified flotation devices. …
  4. Recognize and avoid strong currents. …
  5. Don’t panic if you find yourself in a strong current. …
  6. If you feel yourself start to lose control, tread water or float
  7. Add Alarms to doors and windows that exit towards the pool
  8. Fences around pools
  9. Virginia Graeme main drains to prevent entrapment

The Dangers In Our Beach Sand

Last week I read an article regarding two kids building a snow fortress to play, the snow fortress caved in trapping the kids under the thousand pounds of snow they had compiled together, one of the two kids passed away due to the cold (they were found minutes after they were noticed missing) . These were two ten year olds. We live in Miami and it has not snowed here since 1975 or so and the chances of us seeing enough snow to make a fortress down here is near 0,but we still have a hidden danger that is something like snow. Beach sand, sand castles, and games with our beach sand are very common in Miami , people like to dig holes and bury their friends and families in the sand, we dig tunnels, carving at the sand deep with our hands to reach our friends also digging to meet in the middle. These are summer beach rituals. Now, pouring a little bit of sand over your limbs doesn’t pose no immediate danger, but dig deeper and the danger increases. What most people do not know is that If the hole is deep enough , sand , like snow can cave in and asphyxiate. This is more common with kids because the hole does not need to be as deep as an adult to cover their chest area, where the sand compressed pushes onto the chest, making it more and more difficult to breathe.

Why its important to learn to swim in the winter

If you are a new parent, there is something you need to know. Swimming Saves Lives, swimming is the only sport that once learned has the potential of saving a life, soccer, football , baseball all all entertaining sports, but not one is an essential skill that one needs to learn. Winter months do not cancel out the dangers of falling into s swimming pool, lake, pond or canal. The threats of these dangers are year round , and although , drowning rates do hike in the summer , (statistically correlated to the number of people in on and around the water) the danger in winter does not. So when parents ask me when  is the best time to teach my children, I tell them today. If you have ever tried registering for a learn to swim class in the summer , you will soon find out that the number of children taking classes is much higher than the number of instructors teaching them, squeezing into a class in the midst of summer is like waiting in line at the DMV its a frustrating long ordeal. So why not put them in winter classes, most of our municipal pools are heated to well over 82 degrees, the classes are smaller, the instructors are seasoned (not your summer seasonal staff), classes are usually cheaper and your kids need to learn before the summer arrives.