Drowning can happen in seconds and be silent, so it’s important to practice safety precautions for people of all ages.
According to the Red Cross, 10 people die each day from unintentional drowning. And on average, two of them are under the age of 14.
“Drowning is not always obvious, sometimes it is silent,” said Brianna Olson, the aquatics director for the Minot Family YMCA.
But there are ways to lower the risk of drowning. They include: wearing a life jacket, using the buddy system, and learning swimming and water safety skills.
“It’s very important to encourage people how to swim because even if it’s a foot of water, you could drown. Say you go unconscious for any sort of reason, any kind of medical reason that’s not water related. Cardiac arrest, a diabetic episode, an allergic reaction and you fall and there’s water, you could drown. A lot of people get cramps in the water and even if it’s three feet of water if you go down and you don’t have the strength to come back up, then it’s important to know how to get yourself to safety,” said Olson.
And the Minot Family YMCA offers swimming lessons for different skill levels
“We have levels one through six. And we offer four sessions every season. And then we also have adaptive swim lessons in the fall for children with disabilities. And then we are also working on a ‘safety around water’ program,” said Olson.
At the Minot Family YMCA, the pool is only open when lifeguards are on duty. That way someone is always supervising the pool area to make sure a trained professional can help if necessary. The lifeguards are all Red Cross certified, so they are ready to spring into action if needed.
“They get into the water. Everybody gets out. And they make the save, bring them to the edge. And then we have our second responder, usually our front desk or myself or if there’s another lifeguard on duty, comes in, brings in the AED, even if we don’t need it, that way it’s there. Brings the backboard if needed and helps assist in the rescue and the control of the crowd,” said Olson.
And when there isn’t a lifeguard present when you’re at a pool or body of water, Olson has a few tips in case someone is drowning near you.
“They should rescue them to the best of their ability knowing the skills that they know. They won’t have obviously a rescue tube available, but if they’re able to get in and safely rescue the person, then those skills definitely come in handy,” said Olson.
Olson says bright-colored swimsuits, especially for children, are important to wear. She recommends people stay away from dark colors like blues and greens because they could blend in with the bottom of the pool.
The Minot Family YMCA also offers parent-child lessons for children ages six months to three years old.
Olson says this allows parents and their children to bond but also makes the child feel more comfortable around water.