Lifeguards know what kind of swimmer you are before you even hit the water!
Lifeguards recognize potential at-risk swimmers by the way the way they approach the water. Strong swimmers will approach the water full of confidence. Confident swimmers usually enter the water in one fluid motion; they will jump, dive or even run to enter the water.
At risk swimmers approach the water with wide eyes and slow movements. They tend to sit with their feet in the water, hang out on the steps, or hold onto the rails or the sides of the pool.
That said, the smaller the child the more important it is to watch them carefully. Small newly mobile toddlers have no fear of the water and can quickly disappear without a sound. It takes less than two minutes for a child to drown. Almost half of the children who drown are within 23 meters of a parent or another adult.
At Risk Swimmers
Besides being able to recognize at risk swimmers as they approach the pool, lifeguards need to be able to recognize potential victims in the water. Some pools provide “risk guards” who continually rove around the pool looking for high-risk and weaker swimmers.
At risk swimmers are placed in four categories:
- Boppers = non-swimmers who jump up and down to keep their nose and mouth above the water.
- Floppers = toddlers who could fall into shallow water and drown easily. Parents should stay within arm’s reach of their toddler.
- Hangers = non-swimmers who hold onto the ledge of the pool to get around instead of swimming or touching the bottom. The guards must make sure the water depth will not be over the hanger’s head if he or she lets go of the wall.
- Breath-holders = swimmers who attempt to talk underwater, hold their breath for long periods or swim a long distance underwater and get into trouble
Drowning victims cannot wave or yell for help, except in rare circumstances;
Lifeguards know as we try to yell our mouths sink below the surface of the water and cannot remain above the surface of the water long enough to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. Drowning people will not stop struggling to keep their head up to wave for help. A lifeguard knows they only 20 to 60 seconds from beginning to end, to respond before submersion occurs.
What Parents Need to Know
Lifeguards are not there to babysit your children. Lifeguards will explain the pool rules to the young swimmers, and it is the parents job to help enforce and make sure their children understand the rules, so lifeguards can do their jobs.
Kids will quarrel. If the parents are present, lifeguards will remind them that it is their job to take care of their kids’ issues, otherwise it can interfere with the lifeguard’s job and put other swimmers in danger.
Note: Since children can drown in less than two minutes, and in two inches of water, lifeguards suggest parents keep small children at arm’s reach.
For instance, in Florida a mother was on her cell phone, on the pool deck while 3 of her kids drown just feet away from her. Because of occurrences like this, lifeguards often warn parents that reading books, chatting with others, and texting instead of supervising your kids can be dangerous, and increase chances of drowning.
Lifeguards always warn against running, sliding, and jumping as all cause high risks around the pool, so stop these actions before accidents happen.
Information like this is published with hopes of saving lives. But when knowing isn’t enough, lifeguards encourage swim lessons as well as supply pools, waterparks, lakes, rivers and ocean guards with lifesaving lifeguard equipment as well as bright men’s and women’s lifeguard apparel for easy distinction against the crowds.