Sunday, July 9, 2017

[Part 2] Why Risk It?: Survive swim season

There’s no ONE reason that people drown. But there are factors that come together to increase your risk of drowning. This blog post is the second of two that breaks down the numbers in the Lifesaving Society’s 2017 Ontario Drowning Report.

Check out part one for the who, when, where and what.

Why? The risk factors.

We’ve learned the first four W’s of water-related fatalities in Ontario. So now the question remains - why do these deaths happen in the first place? Risk factors change depending on what age group you’re looking at.

In kids under 5, the #1 risk factor for drowning is that there was either no supervision OR the person supervising was distracted. Improper supervision contributed to 92% of deaths of kids in this age range. The next highest risk factor, at 63%, was that kids were alone near the water. What’s most sad here isn’t the loss of young life, but the fact that all of these deaths were preventable. This is why it’s recommended that childproof gates be installed around every pool and that parents actively supervise when their kids are swimming.

The next age category that the Lifesaving Society identified is kids aged five to 14. Here, the biggest risk factor was only being in the company of other minors. Even if your child is a confident swimmer, there should always be an adult supervising when kids are in the water.

Above the age of 15, risk factors become common among all age groups. The top risk factor in all adult drowning deaths is not wearing a personal floatation device when relevant. According to the Canadian Red Cross, 87% of drowning deaths that happen while boating occur when the victim either isn’t wearing a PFD or didn’t have it done up properly. In most of these cases, victims never intended to enter the water.

After not wearing a PFD, the next three risk factors for adult drowning deaths were:

  • Alone
  • Alcohol consumption
  • After dark

This is a lot of information - but what can we do with it? By controlling for any or all of these factors, you can actively decrease drowning risk for yourself, your family and your friends.

Is it dusk at the cottage and your husband (who’s had a few beers) wants to go out for a swim? Maybe you can convince him to wait until morning. Or, your 20-something nephew is taking the younger cousins out for a ride on the family’s boat? Why not ensure every person aboard - your nephew included - is wearing a properly fastened PFD?

Knowing these risk factors grants you the power to act against them. Stay safe this summer. And happy swimming!

[Part 2] Why Risk It?: Survive swim season is courtesy of: The Aqua Life

Friday, June 2, 2017

Why become a lifeguard?

There have been key moments throughout my life when I've thanked my lucky stars I became a lifeguard.

Once when I was 16, I stepped in to teach the father of one of my students. This jovial man explained to me that he could do front crawl and just wanted to work on his breathing. He swam across the shallow end comfortably, so I asked him to swim to the other end. Halfway down the pool he looked up at me, his eyes grew wide and he began to drown. Turns out he’d never swam in the deep end before. I was momentarily confused, but then my training kicked in and I quickly rescued him.

A couple years later, a car turned into oncoming traffic outside the tourist information centre I worked at. I ran with my first aid kit to see if I could help. A middle aged lady had been hit head on in her car and a small crowd gathered around her. I did a quick assessment of the scene and she was obviously in shock. Her eyes were unfocused and she had a deep red welt on her forehead where it hit the steering wheel.

She muttered for someone to help her out of the car, but her legs were twisted at strange angles. They were probably broken and moving her could injure her further. As a bystander moved to help her from the car, I stopped him - she had to stay until the ambulance arrived. In addition to her legs, there was no way to know what internal or spinal injuries she had suffered. I held her hand and spoke to her to keep her conscious until the paramedics arrived.

Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross prepare you for a fun summer job, but they also do so much more. These courses change you (and your perspective).  When I took my first course at 14, I wanted to look cool sitting on top of the lifeguard tower. That was seriously my motivation. But, just a few years into my career, my training had made me a valuable member of a lifesaving team - in many different scenarios. You might be the one to jump in the water to rescue a victim, but you also have teammates on deck to grab the first aid kit or clear the pool.

While the training can prepare you to be a hero, the most practical thing about lifeguard training is that it makes you an asset rather than a liability in an emergency situation.

I’m very grateful for the skills my training has given me:

  1. A sense of clarity - especially in emergency situations. A common response might be to panic or freeze, while lifeguards are trained to stay calm and act.
  2. Power to assess - Our training teaches us to look beyond the obvious so we can triage patients during an emergency. While our instinct might be to run to the aid of the loudest person, there can be others who need us more urgently.
  3. Ability to treat people - Without proper training it can be easy to further injure a person in trying to help them. Emergency First Aid gives you the skills to know what you CAN do in the moment, but also the knowledge to know what you shouldn’t do.

Whether you go on to be a lifeguard or have zero desire to sit on the lifeguard chair, this training comes in handy at the most surprising times. Bronze Medallion & Bronze Cross, while they’re the first steps to becoming a lifeguard, are so much more.

Do you have your Bronze Medallion or Bronze Cross? We’d love to hear more about how these courses have helped you - in any area of your life! Share in the comments and join us on Facebook!

Why become a lifeguard? was first published on:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Learn to Swim Games: Put Your Face In

Will your children practice with you? If not, not to worry. We may just have the trick you need to make swim practice fun! 

No matter the skill, most parents tell us it is pretty tough to motivate their child to focus outside of class or lesson time. ESPECIALLY if it’s a skill that your child is uncomfortable with - like putting their face in the water!

Here we go! In this blog, we’ll show you three games you can play with your child to practice submerging their face.

Games are a great way to learn.  

Helpful hint: Before you play any of these games, check out The No Tears Guide: Help Your Child Put Their Face In.

We also recommend that your child wear goggles, at least when they’re first learning this skill. It takes away some of the mystery, and subsequent discomfort, of putting their face into the water. Goggles also reduce the chance of getting stinging pool water in your eyes, which can be another deterrent for a lot of kids to learn to swim. Once your child is a pro at submersion feel free to take off the goggles and try that.

1) How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up?

This is a super simple game that you can play anywhere! Have your child put their face in the water - they don’t have to go too far, just enough to get their goggles in the water and see clearly. While they’re under, hold up your fingers to indicate a number. Make sure your fingers are deep enough that they can’t peek at them without actually putting their face in. When they come back up, ask them how many fingers you were showing!

I know this one sounds pretty simple, but it’s a good beginner game and kids really do get a kick out of being able to tell you what they saw while underwater.

2) Turtle Rescue

For this one, you’ll need sinkable toys. We use these really great turtles that come with their own eggs! You can let water in or out to change what level they sit at in the water. AND they come in colour-coded, numbered pairs. (Keep your eyes peeled, they’ll be coming to ALSA’s new online store this summer)

For beginners, play this game on the steps. Sink the toy and have your child reach down and ‘rescue’ it! To start, it doesn’t need to be deep enough for them to have to put their face in. Ease them into it by slowly moving the toy to a deeper part of the steps. Stay close and guide them through the water if they need it.

3) Torpedo

This one uses another one of the Aqua Life’s favourite toys: the Toypedo! You can play on the steps or in the shallow end, depending on your child’s comfort and skill level. Back up a few feet from your child. Throw the torpedo towards them, ensuring that the nose and the body of the toy stay underwater the whole way. Have your child catch it and return it to you the same way.

Alternate between throwing it straight to them or veering just off to the side. This will encourage them to step out of their comfort zone in order to catch the torpedo. Eventually, you can build to missing on purpose so that your child has to dive in order to retrieve it. Stay close by and help them out so they feel safe and supported when they go under to recover their toy.
Are there any games you play to help your child practice their swim skills? Or, do you have any favourite swim toys? Let us know in the comments. And, we’d love for you to join us on Facebook and Twitter. Happy swimming!

The following post Learn to Swim Games: Put Your Face In is available on: The Aqua Life

Monday, May 8, 2017

Learn To Swim Games: Practice Your Kick

We often hear from parents who say that practice looks a lot more fun in lessons than it does at home! How do we do it?

As often as we can in a lesson, we engage kids in practice by adding a little imagination into fundamental skills. As Mary Poppins says, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” The same is true for practice when you make it into a game!

Here are three games you can play with your child to get them practicing their straight-leg kick in the water. Kicking is fundamental to two of the four major strokes your child will learn on their way to becoming a proficient swimmer.

By the way, they all require some creative narration on your part! Don’t worry, you got this.

1. Motorboat stuck in the mud!

To play this one, you don’t need any toys. Have your child hold onto the side of the pool while floating on their front.

Now picture it, they’re the motorboat zooming around through shallow waters. And they get stuck in the mud! Use your narration to have them speed up their kick or slow down as they go through different imaginary areas. Check out the video below to see this in action.

“Uh oh, the motorboat is getting stuck - it’s slowing down!” Count down the seconds for them so they know how long they have to maintain a certain speed. “Alright, we need to get out of the mud - kick really fast!”

2. Don’t Let the Turtle Bite Your Toes!

For this, you’ll need a floating toy. If you have a sea creature, great. If not, a ball will do. Have your child place their hands on the steps of the pool at a level where they can just place their chin in the water.

Uh oh! The sea turtle is on its way to nibble their toes! Place the toy in the water behind them and have them kick to send waves that push it away. You can leave it free floating or stay behind and move it closer and farther. Have them look back periodically to see how well they’re doing.

3. Let’s Rescue the Sea Creature

Like the last one, this game requires a floating toy. A sea creature, a boat - as long as it floats it’ll do. If you have an assortment of floating toys, let your child pick their favourite for this game.

Once you choose a toy, have your child throw it into the centre of the pool. Now, it’s time to go rescue it! With both their hands on a barbell, have them kick to propel themselves towards the toy. Swim or walk alongside them and encourage them (use your narrative skills!). Once you reach the toy, grab it for them and have them turn to bring it back to “port” (AKA the steps).

You can up the challenge on this game by throwing the toy farther away each time.

Are there other games you play with your kids to help them practice in the pool? Let us know in the comments! And, join us on Facebook and Twitter for lots more family and swim-themed stuff!

Learn To Swim Games: Practice Your Kick was originally published on: The Aqua Life

The Aqua Life | Games - Kick