For Added Aquatic Security

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nine people on average drown each day in the United States; additionally, 19 percent of children who drown in public pools do so with certified lifeguards on duty.

Lifejackets can make non-swimmers virtually drown-proof.

For the past quarter-century, the most repeated water-safety mantra has been “constant, vigilant supervision.”

However this is a contradiction, for, simply stated, human beings cannot remain vigilant for more than a very brief time. Ultimately, it’s not the lack of supervision that contributes to drowning, but rather naturally occurring lapses in supervision.

While many other endeavors use technology to supplement attention and concentration, water safety primarily relies upon human senses.

But water-safety personnel do have a simple, practical and affordable technology available to them that has gone underutilized for many years. The lifejacket–primarily reserved for use on boats and other small craft–needs to be utilized universally by non-swimmers in swimming pools and water parks.

An appropriately fitting lifejacket can probably “drown proof” every person who wears one. But there needs to be a significant change in the water-safety culture to extend and normalize the use of lifejackets from boats to swimming activities at pools and beaches.

In the summer of 2008, the National Note and Float program was piloted at the outdoor swimming pool at Penn State University with great success. Since then, many aquatic facilities and organizations, such as Winston-Salem, N.C., Upper St. Clair, Penn., and Tucson, Ariz., have adopted the program with positive results.

How Does The Program Work?

First, it is important to understand there are no fees associated with the Note and Float program–it’s totally free. However, wristbands and lifejackets must be either obtained through sponsors or purchased.

While some individuals and aquatic facilities may worry about the cost, it should be emphasized that many organizations and companies are happy to donate lifejackets in return for their logo or advertisement on the back of the equipment.

There is much flexibility in allowing aquatic facilities to custom-fit the program to their specific needs. For instance, if the program cannot be applied to every non-swimmer at a pool, beach or water park, swimmer groups (birthday parties, school groups, church groups, etc.) should be targeted first, due to the fact that more than 50 percent of all drownings at guarded aquatic facilities occur during group functions.

The second priority group is children under age 7 because they are the highest risk in terms of age group, and they are unable to protect themselves.

Here are six simple steps to initiate the program at your facility:

1. Test all swimmers in shallow water before allowing them to use the facilities. Register all non-swimmers, and give each person wristbands and properly fitting lifejackets.

Lifejackets are a simple, effective way to protect kids in the pool.

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