Drowning – A Tragic Statistic

In Safety Tips by Steve DonohoeLeave a Comment

All students alert and participating in Anaheim classroom.

Spring and sunshine are here!  And our class in Anaheim, March 25-26 2010, was “a buzz’n” with guys from all over California:  Palmdale, Palm Springs, Warner Springs, Pomona and all over Orange County.  Many of them came as strangers, but left as buddies, friends, and colleagues in the pool industry.  One student had a background very similar to mine:  he came from the corporate world of computer software development — and yes — like me, he was a coder in the early PC days — so, needless to say — we connected!

Two students from Warner Springs maintain spring-fed swimming pools at their resort.  One pool uses 140 degree spring water that has to be cooled down first before guests can use it!  — a very novel concept that we might check out sometime for a weekend get-away?!

The topic of swimming pool safety was of special interest in the class — and very appropriate as we now enter into the 2010 swimming season.  There was a lot of class participation on the subject of drowning:   “CHILDREN DROWN WITHOUT A SOUND,” and it’s tragic!  Drowning is the leading cause of death in children, age 1 to 4 years, in both California and Orange County.  On average 8 children (the equivalent of a pre-school classroom) drown EVERY YEAR in Orange County alone!  And the truly sad thing is that it is 100% PREVENTABLE!   Click here to see the Orange county Drowning Fact Sheet.

“Hi Grown-ups! I just want to have FUN in the swimming pool, but it can be a DANGEROUS place for me every second I am near it! — So PLEASE keep me SAFE and be MY very own, DEDICATED WATER WATCHER today!”

I had a side discussion with one of the students where he described an incident with his young daughter at a public pool.  The pool was well-supervised, but no one was specifically designated to watch the pool and swimmers.  There were only a few children in the pool at the time, including his daughter.  As he was talking to one of the employees,  he noticed his daughter was straying off along the side at the edge of the pool…..but kept glancing at her as he continued to talk.  Again, he looked backed over to his daughter and this time, she was under the water!  By the  time he ran around, reached down and pulled her up — she was scared, panicked and was coughing up water.  He said he will never forget the expression of fear on her face.

The bottom line is this:  we can talk about “levels of safety” which should be in place (gates, alarms, fencing, etc.), but nothing can prevent drowning as well as simply:

  1. Making everyone aware of the dangers of the swimming pool — every second! — and
  2. Maintaining close supervision by delegating individuals to do nothing other than watch the pool and swimmers in it!!  — that means:  “Water Watchers” are ON DUTY!    Water Watchers don’t leave the area for bathroom breaks, they don’t take phone calls, they don’t talk to other adults or play with children — they monitor the pool activities during their TIMED WATER WATCH and then pass the duty on to the next Water Watcher.  It’s a simple concept, but one that a Water Watcher MUST adhere to or a disaster could happen!

Safety Tips:

  • Hire lifeguards from your local YMCA when you have a social activity in or near the swimming pool at your home.
  • Or implement a “Water Watcher” program.

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