JAMESTOWN, N.C. -- With pool season underway, Triad lifeguards and swim program directors are urging families to heed caution in the water and prevent the "silent killer" -- more commonly referred to as drowning.
The CDC says more than 3,500 people die from unintentional, non-boat-related drownings each year. An additional 340 die in unintentional, boat-related drownings. One in five people who die from drowning are children ages 14 and younger, and most are African American. For every child who dies from drowning, another five are hospitalized for injuries due to submersion in water.
Ragsdale YMCA aquatics director Justine Intiso reiterated the importance of knowing never to swim alone and without a lifeguard present. She said all supervisors, especially those in a pool in which there is not a lifeguard, must practice the "touch" rule, in which they always are within an arms reach of a young child in the pool. She said supervisors must never be distracted, via reading, phone or other activity in which eyes are diverted from the swimmers in the pool.
On the Good Morning Show Tuesday, Intiso and Ragsdale YMCA lead lifeguard/deck supervisor Maddie Rindal demonstrated the importance of also being able to recognize a distressed swimmer versus a non-distressed swimmer. Intiso said a distressed swimmer will typically bob up and down in the water, have glossy eyes and could show signs of distress. She said these signs can be difficult to notice in a crowded pool situation and often can be hard to differentiate from children who are playing in the water. Therefore, she said it is important to teach children never to pretend to be drowning, as lifeguards always will air on the side of caution and attempt to save.
In the event a swimmer is distressed, Intiso said it is important to allow only a trained lifeguard to attempt to save the swimmer. If a lifeguard is not present, a witness should resist the natural urge to jump in the pool, as he or she then risks being pulled under by the distressed swimmer. Instead, the witness should call 911 while preparing to throw a flotation object, such as a tube or noodle, to the swimmer. Intiso said when pulling the swimmer to safety, a person must be certain to leave ample distance, so as to avoid being pulled into the water by the swimmer's grip on the flotation object.
Intiso said some swimmers tend to use air-filled flotation devices, like noodles or tubes, to stay afloat. She said these devices cannot substitute an approved life jacket or safety vest, as children can slip through or become tangled in non-approved devices.
Intiso suggested all families seek swim assessments and swim lessons available by aquatics providers in the Triad community. She said the Ragsdale YMCA is offering free swim assessments on the following dates:
- June 13, 2014 - 5 - 6:30 p.m.
- June 14, 2014 - 2 - 3:30 p.m.
- June 20, 2014 - 5 - 6:30 p.m.
Contact the Ragsdale YMCA at 336-882-9622 to sign up for one of these assessments.