If you have school-aged children, they probably have fire drills, in which they practice what they should do in case of a fire. If you live in tornado country, your children may also be accustomed to drills for that kind of emergency as well. Why do schools do these kinds of drills? They realize that if and when those kinds of situations come up, time is of the essence, and a timely response can make the difference between life and death.
The same is true when it comes to drowning incidents; sometimes you have only seconds to respond in order to avoid lifelong brain damage or death. If you have a backyard swimming pool, practicing what to do in case of a drowning incident is an important part of your water safety plan.
Signal a Warning
As we’ve discussed in former posts, having multiple tiers of protection in place is a huge part of water safety. One of these tiers that we’ve mentioned before includes having a designated adult on “lifeguard duty” at all times. What is the lifeguard’s go-to communication mode? A whistle, of course! In addition to purchasing emergency whistles like these, you’ll want to practice using the whistle so everyone knows what to do in case they hear the warning signal. You do want everyone to associate hearing the whistle with an alert status, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make practicing with it a playful activity.
You can practice blowing the whistle and having everyone in the pool and pool area get quiet and look around to see if they see anyone in danger. Alternatively, you can make it a rule that if anyone is in the pool when they hear the whistle, they need to get out of the pool as quickly and safely as possible. You could even give out prizes for whoever sees a hazard, such as maybe a baby doll thrown into the pool.
Adults should be part of the response as well, doing head counts, offering help to the lifeguard, and being ready to perform CPR or call emergency services. Being ready to respond in these ways can truly make a difference if an urgent situation does come up.
Other ways to practice for increased water safety involve helping your child put their PFD on, grabbing hold of a throwable PFD, or tossing one out to a struggling swimmer. Children who are not strong swimmers should be taught not to move closer to someone who is struggling in the water, since they can easily put themselves also at risk; instead, they should know whom to call or where to find a whistle and flotation device that they can use to help.
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