At the Y with Stacey Coombs
Swimming is a fun activity that should be enjoyed by all ages but is also an invaluable skill that will keep you safe in and around the water. According to the Maritimes Drowning Report 2014 Edition, published by the Lifesaving Society, in Nova Scotia, the ocean is the most frequent place where drowning occurs, at a rate of 40 per cent. Comparatively, fewer than two per cent of drowning occurs in a lifeguard supervised setting.
The main goal of a lifeguard is to prevent aquatic incidents. Lifeguards learn to recognize distress and unsafe behaviours and are trained to respond to aquatic related crisis. They are responsible for the safety of all patrons by enforcing rules and policies that are set in place to keep the public safe.
The Lifesaving Society is dedicated to water safety and integral in the development of water safety practices. Aquatic facilities base their policies on the research conducted by the Lifesaving Society. The Drowning Report, which helps policy makers and facilities to develop safety standards appropriate to age, fitness, pool depth, location, activity etc. states that “children five to 12 years are the most prevalent age group, accounting for half (48 per cent) of public pool/waterpark victims.”
Based on this statistic, many aquatic facilities have implemented that children six and under must be accompanied by a swimming companion of 18+years. Children can easily over-estimate their capabilities and be in trouble quickly. The Report states that “53 per cent of children under five years of age drown during a momentary absence/lapse of caregiver attention.”
The risk of incident reduces drastically with a parent or companion in arms-length and a lifeguard present. This policy is a preventative measure designed to keep children safe.
Drowning is preventable. Education is crucial. Safe swimming practices reduce the chances of drowning and contribute to a healthy mind, spirit, & body.
Stacey Coombs is a membership services representative at the YMCA Association of Cumberland. At the Y appears bi-weekly in The Amherst News.