Do you know what the signs of drowning are? It’s a person who is waving their arms up and down, struggling to keep their head above water and screaming, right? Wrong. That’s the Hollywood version. The reality is drowning is a silent killer.
Drowning Prevention Tool and Tips for Families
A drowning child can remain upright in water, with no signs of kicking or visible struggling. She can struggle for 20 to 60 seconds before going under. When someone is drowning, her mouth sinks below and reappears above the surface of water. This happens so fast that there isn’t enough time to inhale, exhale and call for help. A child who is drowning will have eyes that appear glassy, unable to focus or will simply be closed. They may also appear to be climbing, as they frantically try to get out of water. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning. Those who are at the highest level of risk are children under the age of five.
What factors influence drowning risk?
In a 2004 U.S. study by a national safety group, 90% of children who drowned did so while they were under the care of an adult or teenager. In many cases, it was due to a caretaker’s momentary lapse of attention. Drowning is fast, silent and preventable. That’s why the Lifesaving Society created On Guard Card. This card designates who is the pool/beach safety supervisor. The wearer of the card is on guard — essentially it empowers parents to be their child’s very own lifeguard. The card is a symbol of the changing of the guard, says Barbara Byers, Lifesaving Society’s public education director. “Lifeguards are trained to look out for people, watch for changes in behaviour and reactions.”
How On Guard Card Works
Whether you are at the beach, cottage, or a pool party, parents should assign who will look after a child, or group of children, when they put on the On Guard Card lanyard. Once a parent needs to take a break, they remove the lanyard and place it on another designated adult. Afterwards, this parent is responsible for looking after a child or group of children playing in water. “It’s similar to a lifeguard’s shift change, it literally is a changing of the guard,” says Byers.
Lifesaving Society’s 5 Tips for Drowning Prevention
- Never leave children alone near water
- Stay within arms reach of swimmers and non-swimmers
- Stay by the water’s edge
- Watch every child unless someone unless help is near
- Make sure non-swimmers wear life jackets