Monday, March 18, 2013

What happens when the lifeguard gets distracted?

Saturday my children were swimming within 3 feet of each other, and within 5-8 feet of me, it took me a minute to realize my son Jack was under the water struggling to get up. Silently.  Would it surprise you to know we were at their swim lessons?
At the time, there was one lifeguard in the pool with him and about 7 instructors in the pool, including his instructor who had just finished his lesson. While he was so close, and my eyes were on the pool, my daughter was actually the one causing the distraction as she wandered a bit off course and my eyes, the lifeguards and the instructors were glancing at the danger she was putting herself into. Long enough for Jack to lose his footing and thrash. Silently.
This was a great lesson in pool safety that even when you think your child is safe with trained supervisors around them there’s still risk. A parent who lost their child to drowning once told me the safest pool is no pool, however I don’t know if that is reasonable. I don’t want my children to fear the water, but I do want them to be trained to react with skills and knowledge that will keep them safe.
Maybe 5 seconds passed from the moment I saw Jack lose his footing, begin to flail his arms and for me to yell “hey, hey” at the lifeguard by his side, before Jack was scooped up. Quick reaction in my book and I don’t hold resentment to the lifeguard, or anyone else – this is the water. From his lessons Jack was able to maintain his composure and get air while trying to get back on his feet.
We can’t be watching our children every second, but we can’t take things for granted either. If our children are in swim lessons, they don’t know how to swim -- they are there learning. Which means as parents, our eyes need to be on them too, not on our phones and not chatting it up with the other moms. Same goes for the country club, gym, lake, ocean, wherever we take our children this summer. Don’t assume your child is safe because there’s a lifeguard stationed there. They’re human and faced with many distractions in the pool. Just like moms.
Here are some great tips to stay safe in the water, offered by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

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