Water safety begins with you: Lifeguards promote Drowning Prevention Week

Jodi Schellenberg
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For many people, spending time at a pool, lake or even river is an enjoyable pastime, but like all activities, there are important safety measures to follow.

To help promote National Drowning Prevention Week July 19-27, the lifeguards in the city put PFDs on the Diefenbaker statue outside City Hall (pictured) and the statue on the Harry Jerome Track.

In honour of National Drowning Prevention Week (July 19-27), the staff at the Kinsmen Water Park in Prince Albert are planning a number of activities throughout the week to teach people how to stay safe near the water.

“It is really important because Canada and especially Saskatchewan, we have so many lakes, rivers and open water that lots of people don’t always take the precautions to stay safe around the water,” said Lauren Haubrich, an aquatic manager for the city. “They always think about the fun stuff but not the serious stuff.”

One of the most important tips is to always wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) when on a boat, Haubrich said.

“Lots of people, especially families, they go out and mom and dad aren’t wearing PFDs but the kids are,” she said. “There have been lots of stories where the boat capsizes and the kids end up watching their parents drown because they are in a PFD but their parents aren’t. It is really unfortunate.”

She said another danger is when people end up in the water unexpectedly and cannot save themselves.

“They are on the dock, fishing or they were walking their dog by the river,” Haubrich said. “They don’t think they are going to be in the water but something happens and they get there and maybe weren’t a good swimmer or maybe weren’t expecting it and unfortunately drown.”

One way to help people be prepared around water is to take the Lifesaving Society’s Swim to Survive challenge, a three-step challenge to help Canadians survive any unexpected fall into water.

Those facing the challenge have to roll into deep water, tread water for one minute and then swim 50 metres without stopping.

“It is unfortunate because there are lots of adults who can’t meet the challenge but yet in swimming lessons … kids learn it,” Haubrich said. “Kids who are eight years old are able to do it but lots of adults aren’t.”

One of the interesting promotions of this week were PFDs placed on the Diefenbaker statue outside City Hall and another on the statue on the Harry Jerome Track.

“People driving by will probably double take and think, ‘Why is that statue wearing a PFD?’” Haubrich said. “It kind of signifies that you shouldn’t have to double take to see someone wearing a lifejacket and I think that’s why lots of adults don’t do it is they think, ‘I don’t want to wear a lifejacket, no one else is doing it.’”

To teach the public more water safety tips, Haubrich said they will be putting on events at the pool all week.

Every day they will have face painting, posters and information up, a CPR demonstration, two different lifeguard demonstrations, fun games and activities, plus the opportunity for patrons to participate in the Swim to Survive challenge.

In addition, each day will focus on a different water safety aspect. On Monday, patrons learned about sun safety, with the help of the UV skin damage camera that the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency and Canadian Cancer provided.

Tuesday will be a full day, focusing mainly on supervision of children, swimming with a buddy and to stay within arms reach of children under seven.

“We are actually going to do a full mock rescue, a complete spinal rescue, that the lifeguards do,” Haubrich said. “Then Parkland Ambulance is going to come in and going to take over. We are going to see from the lifeguard rescue and then the paramedic coming in to take the person away.”

The lifeguards will also be hosting a parent lifeguard course, which is a free hour-long program to show parents what to watch for when playing around the water with their children.

On Wednesday, the lifeguards will be doing a lifesaving sport presentation. Haubrich said it is a recognized sport by the Olympic committee and the water park staff will give a demonstration.

Open water is the theme for Thursday, complete with a presentation from the Prince Albert Fire Department, a free PFD fitting and a second parent lifeguard course for anyone who missed the Tuesday session.

The week will end with speeches from dignitaries and free cake on Friday, along with more fun games and activities for the children.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Lifesaving Society, Saskatchewan Cancer Agency Olympic committee Prince Albert Fire Department

Geographic location: Kinsmen Water Park, Canada, Saskatchewan

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