Pass it on!
Become a role model for others and let them know what you’ve learned about water activity safety.
Children drown quickly and silently
A young child can lose consciousness and stop breathing even in a few centimeters of water that covers his or her mouth and nose. The child will not be able to yell for help once his face is in water.
Young children do not know the risks and dangers of water. They are curious and they have a strong desire to try new things, like splashing through a big muddy puddle. Often they are not steady on their feet and they cannot save themselves if they fall into water.
Parents and caregivers need to be within arms’ length of any child near open water. Young children playing near open water should wear a lifejacket at all times.
A Designated Watcher is a good idea.
Even if you are part of a small group—maybe two families having a picnic near the water’s edge—one adult needs to be the Designated Watcher who stands apart and observes those playing near or in the water and raising an alarm if necessary. Every 15 minutes or so, parents should change to a different Designated Watcher. It helps if there is a whistle or hat or reaching aid that changes hands and helps remind everyone that one person has volunteered to be an extra layer of safety. Parents still need to be watching close by and remain responsible for their own children.
Learning to talk, Throw, and Reach
Older children and youth can learn the basics of how to help someone who is in the water and in trouble. The most important question they will learn to answer is: how can I help someone while staying safe myself?
The way to do this is by learning TALK, THROW, and REACH.
- First, TALK! Encourage the person in the water to stay calm and swim to safety. Even non-swimmers can do this if they are wearing a lifejacket.
- If the person is too far away to reach, you may THROW them an object like a lifejacket or a floating rope. Stand on one end so that If you miss the first time with the rope, you can pull it back and throw it again.
- If the person is within REACH, extend an object such a branch, a towel, a hockey stick, a shirt, anything that keeps the person from grabbing you and pulling you into the water in their panic. Kneel or even lie down when you do this so you do not get pulled into the water.
You must stay on land or a solid structure (like a dock) to do the rescue. Do not get in the water and let the person grab you. Even if you are a strong swimmer, a person who is frightened can drown you by trying to climb up on you in their panic.
If other children and youth are nearby, tell them to go and get help from an adult.