Oh the water is so inviting! What a time summer is to relax with the kids and with friends and just have fun! But a little planning may make swimming this summer safer. Just having a designated watcher can make water activities safer and more relaxing for everyone.
The designated watcher
At the beach, at the lake, at the pool, designated watchers may prevent drowning. I'm not talking about a lifeguard, but a responsible adult who focuses on watching those we are with in the water every second.
Lifeguards have a big job at busy pools and beaches, and they do their jobs well. But having a designated watcher in the group puts more eyes on the water. The more eyes the better.
Designating a watcher and taking turns being a watcher, can assure that those with us are safe in the water. Having one person we know is watching helps other adults to relax and enjoy talking to others. The designated watcher doesn't get to talk. Just watch carefully. Perhaps the watcher only has to watch for 15 minutes and then someone else can watch.
It's so easy to get distracted talking, getting snacks, or making bathroom runs, but a child or an adult in the water takes less than a minute to start drowning. A minute of distraction, and a quiet drowning could occur. That's the scary part. Drowning happens quietly. That's why a simple, careful watcher from the group in addition to lifeguard can make safe swimming and water fun for everyone.
The designated watcher could have a designated chair or umbrella. Everyone in the group would know that no one goes near the water if there is no designated watcher in the chair or under the umbrella. The chair or umbrella would always be in the same place, so it is easy for kids to know if there is someone watching or not. The watcher could give a signal if it is okay to go in the water. Perhaps the watchers are changing. Perhaps the first watcher wants to tell the next watcher where swimmers are and doesn't want more swimmers in the water just yet. Then she would give a signal not to go in the water just yet.
Agreeing on when a watcher will watch and for how long, assures that not just one person has to shoulder the responsibility of watching those in the water.
Giving the watcher a device or another person for communication helps her to keep watching continually. The watcher could yell out if she needs a break or if someone in the water is in danger, but she could also have a helper nearby. A helper to give her a break or let the lifeguard on duty know there is a problem, if he hasn't seen it already, keeps the watcher able to watch.
The watcher could have a cell phone, a whistle, or a megaphone depending on where she is watching. At a small pool a communication device may not be needed, but at the beach or a lake, a megaphone may come in handy to be heard.
Agreeing that the designated watcher is the boss of the water and the shore, helps everyone to feel safe.
The designated watcher would make sure that children just learning to swim didn't enter the water without an adult at arm's length. Her job would be to continuously scan the area where people in the group are swimming, and to keep track of who is in the water and who is out. She would also have the power to kick members of the group out of the water if they are engaging in dangerous activities.
Adults can relax a little and share the responsibility of making sure everyone is safe. Kids can feel comfortable knowing someone sees them. Having a designated watcher can make water fun and safe for everyone.