July 25, 2014 - 7:39 AM
When you’re packing up for a day on the water, toss in a floatation device along with your suntan lotion, snacks and iPhone. It might save your life, or someone else’s.
I’ll be the first to admit that packing safety gear can feel like a big nuisance. It’s certainly not as fun as loading a beach bag with a good book and a frisbee. The lifejackets always seem to be hidden away in last summer’s beach bag with the ramshackle first aid kit. But leaving home without these essentials is like not wearing a seatbelt because you’re not planning on getting in an accident. It’s just not very smart.
The Lifesaving Society of B.C. reports seven drownings or water-related deaths in the Thompson-Okanagan so far this year. Executive director Dale Miller believes all seven lives might have been saved if “somewhere along the way someone could’ve taken a moment to think of how to prevent it or how to deal with it when it did happen.”
Yet every year, he reads about the same stories again and again.
The horrible part is that quite often, a drowning individual is surrounded by people but no one knows what to do or they don’t have any rescue equipment. The thought of watching someone drown while you watch, powerless to save them, ought to be enough to make you register for a basic water rescue course right after you read this, but sadly, it probably won’t.
Years of lifeguarding at the Armstrong Pool taught me to constantly run through scenarios in my head— What would I do if the kid inching along the gutter loses his grip? If the little girl going down the slide doesn’t come back up after she hits the water? Thinking about what I would do prepared me for the real stuff, and it could help you too.
Being prepared for an accident is just as much a part of the Lifesaving Society’s message as preventing one in the first place. Instead of assuming you won’t have a problem, consider what you would do, and what you would need, if you did.
If you don’t have an actual reaching pole, think about what you do have—a paddle, a rope, even a pool noodle can be used to extend to a swimmer in distress. A styrofoam cooler can be used as a floatation device.
Just don’t be the person who thinks it’s always going to happen to someone else. No one is immune; not children, not young adults, and not seniors. The seven fatalities in the Thompson-Okanagan, and the 42 throughout the province so far this year are a sobering reminder.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014