Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Children Drown SILENTLY.
Last summer my in-laws came to town from Arizona. Being that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law drove up to our city with their little girl as well to hang out, we thought it would be a fun opportunity to check out our local city pool/water park. Little did we know that what we'd witness that day would leave a chilling and lasting impression on us.
We were all talking and enjoying catching up sitting around a picnic table, drying off after a little fun in the water, when suddenly all of the life guards started blowing their whistles and screaming for people to exit the pool immediately. At first I thought it was one of their routine safety checks that they do about every half hour. However, this time was different. Looking across the pool we noticed a young life guard hurl a 7 year old boy's limp body up onto the concrete, where he'd lay like a rag doll for several minutes, receiving chest compressions and mouth to mouth for what seemed like an eternity. Some of us couldn't watch. I couldn't NOT watch, holding my breath as I waited for the boy to regain his.
By the time we realized what the commotion was all about, a woman sitting at the table right next to us went running, screaming around to the opposite side of the pool...it was her son. Apparently a good swimmer, he had tried to make is way across the pool, and got too tired to reach the water slides on the other side.
The mother knelt down, grabbed her boy, sobbing, trying to pull him into her lap. We watched what felt like a game of tug-of-war as the lifeguard dragged him back to continue her efforts to save his life. While the laughter of kids at play had gone completely silent, those screams of a mother helplessly watching her son receive CPR from a lifeguard is something that will not soon leave my mind. A couple family members with us could see his little ribs cracking under the violent efforts of the lifeguard from our view across the pool. After what seemed like an eternity, she rolled the boy on his side as he coughed up water. The crowd around the pool erupted in cheers and applause as the ambulance finally arrived, and the heroic young lifeguard disappeared, weeping, into her locker room.
Yes, this all really did happen, and aside from a few broken ribs and some time spent in the hospital on a nebulizer, this boy survived thanks to the keen eye and quick action of a high school girl who took her summer job seriously that day.
With all the posts I've been doing lately about getting your kids outside and playing in the water, it is so incredibly important to remember to NEVER, EVER turn your back on your kids when they are playing in or around the water this summer. Don't ever assume that anyone else is watching your kids, not even your own family or the life guards. The seconds that it takes someone else to notice your child is drowning could be the few seconds needed to save their life.
Read this eye opening post, Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning, to learn more about what children look like when they are drowning. Contrary to what we see on TV and the movies, people do not flail their arms, splash, and holler when they are drowning...they drown SILENTLY.
We are in the process of trying to move into a home on a lake, and in addition to swimming lessons of course, I'm planning to pick up one of these cute "Puddle Jumper" life jackets from Stearns. They are more secure than water wings, and provide more range of motion in the water for your kids to play than a traditional life jacket. (see Sammy above, 2 summer's ago, on Gramma & Grampa's boat!) Please do enjoy your summer, and stay SAFE!