The World Health Organization indicates there are 320,000 annual drowning deaths worldwide. This statistic positions drowning as the world’s number three cause of unintentional death. The good news is that people can potentially prevent drowning by learning to swim proficiently, being aware of the danger, and always following water-safe protocols.
Drowning is quiet and quick
A dangerous misconception is that the average person likens drowning to what they see on screen – frantic thrashing arms, loud screaming and waving are common depictions. There is a massive difference between how movie directors depict a drowning person and how it happens in reality. This ignorance has led to slow or no response to emergencies. A drowning person is silent, as they have no spare air for screaming. They may frantically ‘climb the ladder’ for a few seconds, but this can be easily overlooked. Often, they are exhausted and simply give up and slip under. You must learn the real signs of distress in the water and be prepared to respond or call for help quickly. Always remain vigilant and observant around water.
Always stay vigilant and within the arm’s reach of children to prevent drowning. Use buoyancy aids.
It is vital to keep within arm’s reach and your eyes on children in any type of water – the bath, spa, pool, river, ocean, or a puddle. Not even for a second. Children and weak swimmers must also wear buoyancy vests when in or on the water out of their depth, though this does not replace vigilance and proximity.
Swimming lessons are important to prevent drowning
Australia has nearly 60 000km of coastline and 1.2 million backyard pools, so a large proportion of the population has easy access to recreational swimming, boating, and boarding. It stands to reason that everyone should learn to swim to a high proficiency and become skilled in the vagaries of ocean swimming. Ocean waves, wind, and rips require knowledge, training, and supported practice to swim safely. Vac Swim classes for children and adult swim lessons can improve pool swimming while joining the local surf club or tri-club can provide swimming knowledge in open water.
Know and avoid risky swimming locations and dangerous behaviour near open water
Swimming in cold lakes, streams, or rivers. Sudden immersion in these cold-water environments is dangerous due to:
1. Coldwater shock (CWS), which is an involuntary inhalation that frequently happens on jumping into cold water. If this big breath occurs when the victim’s head is underwater, the victim will not resurface.
2. Heart attack from vasoconstriction of the blood vessels
3. Hypothermia, which causes confusion to even the most experienced swimmer
4. Fast flowing water which may submerge and trap a swimmer Murky dark water makes it difficult to view a submerged swimmer to rescue them
Avoid unsafe behavior
1. Drinking alcohol on or near water
2. Diving when water depth has not been ascertained
3. Refusal to wear a life jacket when on any watercraft
4. Inability to swim but going in regardless.
Do not swim alone
Always swim with a friend and never swim alone. Choose designated swimming locations and ensure lifeguards are on duty, then swim between the flags. Capable, swimming adults should supervise children vigilantly and always remain within arm’s reach.
For aspiring lifeguards looking for ocean or pool Lifeguard courses in Perth, we have got you covered here at the WCWS.