0728-Feature-Safe Waters_Blog

Lifeguard Brianna White surveyed the afternoon crowd on July 9 like she did every day at the community pool in Billings, Montana. Everyone was following the rules. No running, no horseplay.

Then she spotted a 4-year-old boy in the middle of the pool just as he slipped under water. He was drowning.

White dove in and pulled the boy out. But he wasn’t breathing. White began chest compressions and another person gave breaths.

“I was thinking, ‘I have to do this. I have to get this done,’” said White, 19, a student at Montana State University.

The boy survived and is now recovering, but not all children are as fortunate.

Drowning is a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even children and teenagers who know how to swim are at risk in the water, especially in rivers, lakes and at the beach, where weather and water can be unpredictable.

While the American Heart Association recommends Hands-Only CPR for teens and adults, infants and children up to puberty should receive a combination chest compressions and breaths, according to the AHA’s most recent guidelines.

Everyone should learn CPR, said White, who has undergone training twice, the first time during high school gym class. “I’m glad that I was trained because if I wasn’t, who knows what the outcome would have been,” she said.

Here are tips for safe swimming:

  • Never let a child swim alone. Even skilled swimmers need adult supervision at all times.
  • For home pools, use a physical barrier such a fence or pool safety cover.
  • Most community pools have a rope separating the shallow end from the deep end. Keep children in the shallow end if they are not experienced swimmers.
  • Children should take swimming classes to gain the skills and confidence needed to swim responsibly.
  • Learn CPR or take a refresher course because bystander CPR can greatly increase the chances of survival.

Photo courtesy of Brenda White