As a parent, it’s natural to worry about your kids… are they too hot? too cold? did they get enough to eat? are they making friends at school? are they the right friends? Apparently it gets worse as they get older (but seeing as how I’m years away from dealing with teenage angst (or perhaps it should be teenage-induced-parental-angst), I can’t comment on that just yet).
However, one thing I can comment on is water safety. I grew up in the water. Perhaps not literally, but as close to it as one can be. I remember spending entire days in a family friend’s backyard pool, even though it was only 68 degrees F. (You won’t see me doing that now… I like my swimming water at least in the 70s!) I don’t really remember learning how to swim, it was just always something I did. Sure, I remember taking swimming lessons, but they were about perfecting my strokes and learning various life-saving skills. I don’t remember a time when I couldn’t swim. (Although I do remember learning how to somersault into the water… haha.) My extended family is much the same: we love lounging at the lake, whether in it, on it, or beside it. Water was as much a part of growing up as school was.
However, as I’ve gotten older and started moving cities, I realized that not everyone is a good swimmer. Some people only have basic swimming skills, and even some strong swimmers prefer to only use their skills in a pool (as opposed to a lake, which freaks them out). I’m still baffled as to why basic swimming skills are not a part of the curriculum (is it just me??? Most elementary schools I know have ski clubs, and they will teach your kid to ski if they don’t already know how. Skiing is fun, yes, but swimming is a life skill. Where are the after-school swim clubs???). But I digress.
Let me get to the point: kids drown. Lots of them do. Every year. And you know what? (As I just learned….) about half of them will drown within 25 yards (22.86 metres) of a parent or other adult. Half!!! Does that not scare you? And do you know why? Because most people don’t know what drowning really looks like. Oh sure, you might think you know what it looks like, but if what you’re picturing is the Hollywood-version (lots of splashing and calls for help), then you are sorely mistaken. The following article (sent to me by my aunt) is a must-read for every parent. EVERY parent. And I would include grand-parents and care-givers in that too. Read it. Digest it. Read it again. And then send it to everyone you know. Because if you know what drowning looks like, you might just be able to save a life.
And if you only retain one thing from the entire (fantastic!) article, let it be Vittone’s ending thoughts: “And parents — children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you need to get to them and find out why.”