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Monday, July 16, 2007

Drowning in Blame, part II

Wave pools are apparently finding themselves to be quite a hazard, as a couple of recent waterpark drownings were due to wave pools. And as someone commented on my previous post, it can be fairly difficult to keep a child at arm's length when you're being pushed back and forth by those waves. (It's also fairly difficult to keep an eye on a small child who is curious about everything, like my niece, but that's for another blog).

The last time I rode the wave pool, I was surprised by 1. how deep the water was, and 2. how rocky the water was. While I understood that the point was to mimic the actual ocean, nonetheless I was still concerned - lifeguards can actually see people drowning under all those inner tubes, packs of people and moving water? Even I couldn't keep track of my companion, whose inner tube kept floating off in another direction.

Here's where I think humans have reached their fullest capabilities and technology needs to step in. Underwater cameras that alert lifeguards to a motionless body at the bottom of a pool can only be a good thing (unless the body keeps moving with the waves). Handing out lifevests to all children and adults who can't swim is another good option. And going with your child into the pool, rather than sit in a lounge chair, can give you a better view of him or her, even if you get separated.


Anonymous said...

It is indeed extremely difficult to watch out for drowning people in a pool that is crowded and has floatation rafts and toys everywhere. When I had been in a wave pool in my teens 25 years ago I did momentarily end up under a floatation raft because someone flipped it up and it landed on me with someone else trying to mount on it while I was under it. Luckily I did get out from under there quickly.

Although your idea of handing out lifevests to nonswimmers seems like a very good idea, there is a flaw in it. Children and adults who are nonswimmers who refuse to wear a lifevest, perhaps out of embarrassment or not wanting certain tan lines, may play in the water where it's unsafe, or be in danger where it seems to be safe.
My 5 year old refused to wear one but I insisted on it. He probably won't want it when he's older and not under my watch regardless if he doesn't know how to swim.

I recently witnessed a drowning of a young child at a waterpark resort. The child had been in the water, only 3 feet at it's deepest end, and she was in front of her mother who had been sitting in a lounge chair. I doubt she had on a lifevest, many children did not wear them, even some toddlers. There were about 4-5 lifeguards on duty at that pool. The pool was not overly crowded. The child received CPR which seemed to last a solid 5 minutes which can be an eternity. In addition to the 5 lifeguards about 10 more rushed to the scene leaving their posts. Some of them just stood around watching, others ran to other locations to get more help. A doctor and a licensed EMT had been vacationing there and offered assistance but they were rejected even when the girl seemed in dire straits. Probably for legal reasons, but when a life is clearly on the line all measures of help should be accepted. She was eventually taken in an ambulance to a helicopter and then to a hospital. Some don't think she survived, and others think she may now have brain damage. All those lifeguards had difficulty saving a child in 3 feet of water that was not even a wave pool.

Some witnesses thought she was eating in the pool and had choked before drowning and needed the food to be dislodged first. If this is the case then no eating should be allowed when in the water.

Either way, no adult should put full trust in lifeguards to watch and safeguard their children. Nonswimming children should be with a parent at all times. And even then a child without a lifevest could easily slip under water a bit too long if the parent is watching more than the one child. It happened to mine, but he's okay now.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine just sent me this link to the actual news article regarding this incident.


John said...

I did agree with you..See a non-swimmer can quickly become a distressed victim when a wave knocks them off of the flotation device. Sometimes due to peer pressure a weak swimmer desires to join into the group in the deep waters of the wave pool. Once earlier when I went to a crowded wave pool with my friends at aquabot in the month of July..I saw that the knocked off the tube swimmer may have a difficult time even coming up for air and can even be blocked or prevented by the tight fit of the tubes on the surface and the strong wave action present.