As we all head for water to escape the heat (36°C now in mid July and rising), we need to remember that water and water play are fantastic for cooling off, but that water also needs our respect, whether pool or sea.
Today, I was at Golden Bay with friends and kids in tow and swimming very near the channel (hotel end) marked off with buoys for the power boats, pedalos and jet skis to get out into the open sea. The ‘Big Mable’ floating bed and banana boats were moored in a nearby channel and were all too tempting for curious kids wanting a diversion. One boy strayed into the boat channel without noticing. In a few seconds, we saw panicked parent, boy retrieved and told off and an episode that ended safely. But it was a harsh reminder that accidents are waiting to happen on our beaches, even when sea conditions are smooth and calm. Here’s some useful, timely reading to cast your eyes over to help us all stay water safe this summer….
We ran an advice piece on water safety and kids a while back. But there are less obvious ways we can be in difficulty in the water. For instance, would you know how to recognise the signs of someone drowning. We are conditioned, probably by films, to think that people who are drowning wave their arms around, shout and look in distress in the water. If they are managing to wave and shout, then they are likely to be ‘in distress’ but not actually drowning; not at that point. Their noise will trigger our reaction, and lifeguards into action. But it’s those who are silent in the water we need to look out for…
I read a blog post by a guy who has 19 years of US Navy and Coastguard service and writes on all aspects of water safety. He said that drowning doesn’t look like drowning. Because people who are drowning are usually silent, unable to shout as their remaining breaths are for gulping air not voice production, and their arms and hands will be underwater paddling downwards in an attempt to propel their bodies upwards. Because they are silent and their movements underwater, we are less likely to notice their plight.
The article is an eye opener, and led me elsewhere to read about another possibility – ‘delayed drowning‘ which can happen hours after a person has gulped water into their lungs. As island folk with sea and pools the mainstay of our summers, we need to recognise the signs drowning and delayed drowning.
Now, I don’t write ths to shock you, but more to make us all realise we need to at least be aware of the signs of drowning and delayed drowning. Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha beaches have life guards (10am – 6pm), but we leisure and pleasure swimmers are out there, and our alertness may save someone this summer.
So please click here and read the article I read. And let’s all hope for a safe summer in sea and pools.