Water Safety is about more than drowning prevention


SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – May is National Water Safety Month, and with many children, of all ages, home for summer break and looking for fun and potentially cool activates to do, swimming it typically top of the list. Therefore, everyone should be mindful around bodies of water.

Swimming can be the cheapest, most relaxing, coolest activity (given hot summer tips) for everyone to enjoy. Whether, people head to a public or personal pool, enjoy a small or large water park, or hang out near any body of water, fun should follow. But, it’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.

While no one wants that to happen, Thomas E. Hannah Family YMCA Aquatics Director, Susan Luhrsen, said it’s best to have a plan incase of emergencies.

“Most children drown within 10 feet of a wall or 10 feet of safety,” Luhrsen added. “The best practice would be to get a ‘Water Watcher’. A ‘Water Watcher’ is gonna watch all the kids in the pool, while you’re at that pool, even if there is a lifeguard. They’re not gonna use their phone. They’re not gonna get distracted and that’s gonna keep your young ones safe.”

This summer, due to the pandemic, ‘Water Watchers’ will be especially important since lifeguards are in short supply.

“Because of COVID, we didn’t have a lot of time to do lifeguard trainings and a lot of pools were closed last year. So, now we don’t have lifeguards and there is a national lifeguard shortage,” Luhrsen said.

She noted that YMCA’s have been looking to hire more lifeguards. For those interested in becoming a lifeguard, click here to get more details. But, Luhrsen said, training isn’t for the faint of heart:

  • Swim 300 yards continuously demonstrating breath control and rhythmic breathing.
  • Use front crawl, breaststroke or a combination of both
  • Tread water for 2 minutes using only the legs.
  • Complete the following events in 1 minute, 40 seconds

She added that teens who don’t know how to swim but would like to learn how and have the potential to become lifeguards could do so, due to a Rotary Club donation, just email her at: sluhrsen@spartanburgymca.org for more information.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found in the United States, an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings happened annually between 2005 to 2014. Of those, about  one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger.

Luhrsen noted that swimming lessons won’t make a child “drown proof” but it will guarantee a child feels more confident and parents/guardians can feel more sure about their skills near a body of water. For information about swimming lessons, click here. YMCA swimming benchmarks like: “Swim-Float-Swim” and “Jump-Push-Turn-Grab” will help swimmers learn how to get to safety. Additionally, FREE swim lessons will be offered at Thomas E. Hannah and Willis Rd YMCAs during July Summer Camps, click here for more details.

SCDHEC data found every day in America about 10 people die from unintentional drowning. Specifically in South Carolina: 63 deaths, 60 hospitalizations, and 250 emergency room visits were due drowning or submersion in 2014.

Therefore, learning how to swim has always been very necessary. Additionally, practices outside the water, for example: not running around water areas/wet floors, knowing what to have handy in case of a drowning are just as important as knowing how to swim.

” ‘Reach or Throw- Don’t Go’, If you’re not a trained lifeguard, a panicking person can grab onto you and hold you down. Then we’ve got two people in trouble, not just one. So, anything you can reach out to someone with a stick, a chair, a noodle, a lot of times people have noodles at the pool, and you can pull them to safety,” Luhrsen explained.

She added that emptied food and drink coolers or milk jugs are also helpful when Buoy Ring or Shepard’s Crook aren’t on hand to help a person drowning.

Don’t forget water safety isn’t just what to do in the water, it’s also how everyone interacts with it.

“Shower before you get in the pool, no open wounds. Please use the restroom and don’t use the pool as a potty,” Luhrsen said.

SCDHEC and CDC noted that urine mixed with chlorine can create a chemicals hazardous for swimming.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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