I life-guarded for almost 10 years, the only way I would ever let anything that supported a human floating __besides__ an approved life jacket was if the pool was almost empty (such that the one person got my undivided attention) and if I knew the child to already be a strong swimmer.
I highly encourage everyone reading this to not swim at pools that allow floats of any kind besides a life jacket, even something as simple as water wings.  It encourages kids to go deeper than they should, and if they fall off they're in big trouble. It creates the possibility for a child to get trapped under someone else, and a life guard has almost no chance in that scenario.
95% of guarding is preventive.
Neat site though.
 Water wings can create the situation where a child has their head underwater and their arms up above water, but they can't pull themselves up.
Parents were angry at him for throwing their kids into the water. None of them even realized I had almost died. Not that I blame them though, it would probably look pretty funny to see a grown man knock 4 kids off some mats into the pool haha.
I was a pretty strong swimmer at that point, and more than a little lucky as well. I was able to collect my thoughts and get out.
I'm told I was only under there for about ten seconds, but my memory of it feels like about 2-3 minutes. It was easily the scariest thing that ever happened to me personally as a child.
-Like this, but without the gap in the middle: http://www.aquacycleusa.com/aqua-cycle-swim-raft
Like people who do kayaking practice how to get out when the kayak turns upside down.
So for instance, I bought a fire extinguisher and used it up in some deserted bushes. It was a small expense, but now I'm fully aware how this particular type of extinguishers behave. Or when a friend wanted to buy mace (she was coming home late at night), we bought two and used up one for doing target practice, so that she's aware how the fluid stream behaves and how to aim it.
The biggest problem with this approach that I find is that there are so many things you could prepare yourself. Even if it usually would just take a few minutes and little to no expense, you can't train for things you don't realize exist as concepts or situations. For instance, thanks to this subthread it is the first time it occured to me that a situation like obstructed surface when diving in a pool can occur. I'm adding it to my mental list of things to prepare for when I get the opportunity.
Once you are calm, you can orient yourself by observing air bubbles for example, even in turbulent water.
And thanks for watching other people's kids. Wage or not, that job can become real rewarding, especially once you are the humiliated and terrified parent.
I do not even let my kid walk around our community pool without it on!
I made one rescue after a little girl faceplanted from the high dive and came up crying and clearly struggling - the whole time I was helping her to the wall, I had her mom yelling at me from the pool deck that "she's fine, you're just scaring her!" I came away from that second-guessing myself - that maybe I SHOULDN'T have gone in after her, and that I should've just let it play out a little more - which is a really scary thing to second-guess.
At the end of the day you were the one sitting in the chair and had to make a judgement call based on your training and observations.
Think of this way - if you hadn't reacted as you did and the girl ended up injured or dead, how much worse would you feel today?
Other life guards dive into the deep end from the exhaust hatch in the ceiling after the pool is closed to the public.
I'm thankful for both types but I slightly favor the latter.
Needless to say I had to buy 2 umbrellas least my boss found out.
I always likes horsing around with the kids, when we developed a relationship such that they listened to the rules, which really wasn't asking a lot. Don't run, don't dunk people, get out when I ask you do (adult swim, thunder/lighting) and stay out of the deep end if you haven't passed the swim test.
There are boring guards, just like there are boring people. I have found that men and women (mostly teenagers at that point) who elect to hang out in their bathing suits (read: basically underwear) 40 hours a week are usually a lot of fun to be around. There is a specific sense of self-confidence that I never really thought about until replying to your comment.
When I jumped into the deep pool my floating equipment was pushed off. I panicked and struggled for my life until I somehow got to the side and then managed to get up by myself. And no-one noticed.
I stayed away from deep water until I could swim properly.
I also remember one year doing a lifeguarding merit badge where we did various things like tread water for an excessively long period of time, practice towing other people to shore, and even a bit where we had to jump into the water fully clothed in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt and learn how to float regardless (basically by inflating our shirt with air). That stuff was hard. Also one bit where we started on shore, fully-clothed including jeans, socks, laced-up boots, etc, and had to ditch as much clothing as possible and run into the water within an extremely short period of time (the idea being if we saw someone drowning, we had to be able to get in the water to effect a rescue as fast as possible).
 New England has a habit of calling large bodies of water "ponds" even though most other places would call them lakes
They later changed it to a gimme course because of "hazing" complaints, which I thought was awful.
> They later changed it to a gimme course
That sucks. I'm also kind of surprised to hear that, because BSA does not usually skimp on safety, and anyone with the lifeguarding merit badge should be capable of actually saving someone's life.
I swam two out of two and a half laps, but I didn't pace myself well enough, and I ended up having to stop. Partially, I was out of breath, partially, my shoulder was bothering me due to a healed fracture from a car accident last fall. First time I had done any significant amount of swimming since then and didn't realize how far from 100% I was. Was a bit embarrassing getting the "beginner" swim label, but I had to be a good role model and take my lumps.
That's what we use with our two year old son, though he's also only in pools with one-on-one attention. I'd prefer to just take him to shallower pools, but his feet just don't touch in any of our local pools, and puddle jumper seemed like a good option for him to have a little independent exploration in the water.
If the kid is determined enough, they can indeed come off.
Less than 1000 deaths by drowning is a really small number in a country with tens of millions of children swimming every year.
I'll also say that I could find ~1000 families who are probably devastated every year, most likely any marriage that existed was challenged, and possibly broken up. Lives changed forever. Why? So some kid who can't swim could float in 6 feet of water for a few minutes.
Yes it is on parents as well. I am a parent. Fortunately I can swim well. I am not the parent that takes their child to the kiddie pool, and while I'm in the middle of a sneeze, my child takes off and jumps feet-first into the "big" pool, and I can't do anything to save them because I can't swim.
I'll agree 100% that the parents that showed up at my pool and took a 2 hour nap, those were bad parents. I woke them up when their child was misbehaving, and sometimes just because I was severely annoyed.. My guards were guards, not baby-sitters.
Perhaps my child is hanging out with friends, and one of the friends parents takes them all to the community pool. I'm not there. Is is still on me as a parent?
I understand and appreciate your comment. Life just isn't that simple sometimes.
I do volunteer work with my local surf live saving club, looking after the kids in the under 7 program. It is exhausting work standing in the surf watching 30-40 kids at once. Most parents see it as a child-minding surface and are content to sit way up on the beach with a coffee and a phone.
The point is the parents - in many if not the majority of cases - don't pay attention to their kids swimming abilities.
Sometimes I get cramps(? Not sure if right word?) In my legs that hamper my ability to swim. It scares me to think what I'd do if I had to swim in anything other than a small pond. I'm not a good swimmer to begin with.
I had both my kids (currently 3 and 5) learn to swim by having them wear inflatable vests. When they started they had fully inflated vests. every week or so I would deflate it bit by bit, until they are wearing a fully deflated vest. At that point the vest is just for emotional support, and they can pretty much handle the water without drowning (though still need proper lessons of course)
What's to prevent a condom-like "99% success rate" as legal backing for "haha can't sue us if it fails because we didn't promise 100% success rate"? Even though, effectively and when used properly, they have a 100% success rate... it's just there for legal reasons to prevent lawsuits.
My first comment was asking why most of the people were in those rubber things. If most of them can't swim, it is really dangerous for it calls for a high level of alertness on the life-guard part when the people shouldn't be there in the first place. And no, that's not really the job of the life-guard to watch over all of those.
That's like putting someone to watch over a large number of drunk people moving around and having fun in a porcelain shop and make sure none of them breaks anything.
A person unable to swim simply doesn't belong in a swimming pool deep enough that she can drown. She should be the exception rather than the norm.
I may seem dramatic, but this is really a bad thing waiting to happen. And it's already happening. If you couldn't spot the kids in that cluster-mess, that's bad news.
In my opinion, those who don't know yet how to swim should be in a pool of an appropriate depth. This is why you have different pools for swimmers and non-swimmers, or one pool with a gradient of depths.
Also the people responsible for the kid.. if the kid will be in the water unattended, the top priority is to make sure he's comfortable in the water (how to float, how to relax, etc).
Nobody should drown in a darn swimming pool! It's a darn swimming pool!
Fatigue sets in quickly (and sometimes almost instantly). In my case it was a young girl who was a fine swimmer (on the swim team) and had been playing in the pool all day on a hot and crowded July day. She got a little far away from the wall in an area between 5-6 feet, very much like the video, and suddenly found herself struggling to break the surface of the water.
It happens fast, and can happen to kids you would never suspect would find themselves in trouble.
I am unable to view OP's site at the moment so I'm not sure if you mean there was something on top of her.
Anyway, in open water "being able to swim" should include a "rescue/recovery float" ability. AKA, the ability to float indefinitely with little or no expended effort (ideally no effort at all, but some people have body builds which make light sculling necessary). If they can't do that, they aren't ready to swim in deep water.
That is the standard we used when I was a lifeguard and swim instructor (well, instructor assistant).
No, there was no flotation device blocking the surface in any of the videos.
On a slightly more positive note, this is a clip from BBCs Fantastic The Human Body. It talks about and shows the natural abilities of babies to swim at a very early age.
If you're politically correct/sensitive, you may want to skip it. It does show genitals.
They conflate 'can swim across shallow pool' with 'johnny can swim now, so I can relax'.
That said, if you're watching for them, I just sort of defocus to watch the whole pool at once and look for the particular splashes of the drowning person's "swim" that become distinctive after you've seen it enough times.
I assume that they are good as he uses them in his swimming classes and with it he can swim a few metres to the side of the pool.
If your child gets tired, this will not help. This looks like it forced the child into a face-down position, and a tired child forced to be face-down in water doesn't seem like a great idea.
As a fellow parent of a 1.5 year old, I'm sure you've heard of latent drowning.  This device seems like it could promote the chances of that happening as well.
On Amazon you can shop for flotation devices that are "Coast Guard Approved" specifically. I would highly recommend getting one that is.
disclaimer: I'm not in any way a professional when it comes to water safety, so this is just a remark; not advice.
Warning: Not suitable for children under 36 months
Warning: Only to be used in water in which the child is within its depth and under adult supervision
Warning: To be used under the direct supervision of an adult
I don't think it's a mistake that "under adult supervision" is said twice.
Approaching the 3/4 mark of the length, I felt it slipping out of my hands and in my panic, I went down. I woke up after being resuscitated after a lifeguard noticed I was in trouble under the water. He had jumped from the top step of his high chair straight in apparently and literally threw me out of the water to a waiting colleague.
Not sure if I'd trust my own children with that type of flotation aid again, but as you said, it encouraged me to swim outside of my comfort zone and I panicked so perhaps more control is needed of when and where it is used.
> If you make it safe, you kill the fun.
I have no lifeguarding experience nor education, but what you are saying seems important. Any known research or training practices for lifeguards that would support your claim? I could start a dialogue with our local pool with something like that.
Nobody died, which gave every person I guarded the opportunity to pursue an anti-boring life in whatever way they see fit.
There are a lot of ways to have fun at a pool without flotation devices that endanger lives. I can provide a list if you'd like.
You could introduce a rule that nobody can speak or make any noises that aren't a direct result of swimming, so that when someone is in trouble it's easier to hear them and/or someone else alerting to the problem.
Both of those would still be running the pool, both of them would make it easier to keep people from drowning, and it wouldn't be impossible to have fun. It would be much less fun, but not impossible.
But you've drawn a line that those rules would be going too far, whereas banning flotation devices isn't too far. You've balanced in your mind safety vs. entertainment to see what's worth doing and what isn't. I'm not arguing with your decisions, I know nothing about keeping swimmers safe, I'm just saying in response to "my job was to guard lives, not provide entertainment" that if you really didn't care about anything other than saving their lives you could be much stricter and make the pool much less fun, but a tiny bit more safe.
The mother and child were only about 10 feet from me and even I didn't recognize it, and I was a lifeguard 15 years ago! That experience frightened me more than most because it showed me how bad I and others are at recognizing drowning.
Glad that this exists so more people understand what drowning really looks like.
There was also the coveted blue band, which you could only get by doing a very rigorous set of tests and passing junior lifeguard training. I had to swim who knows how many laps and tread water for like an hour, plus lift bricks up off the pool floor and various other lifeguard-related things. The blue bands were super "rare" and I realize now it was just an inventive way to encourage the kids to swim better and harder.
Not exactly the same bands you were talking about, but a cheaper alternative and a good way to keep control and prevent drownings before they happen.
Almost two decades passes. I'm in Bali, on a deserted beach with my ex because we "don't want the average experience" or whatever. A small argument and I decide I want a swim. I walk out through the surf, my mind overcome with thoughts of the pathetic argument. I don't think about the undulating sand beneath my feet, but I should. Not even 2 minutes into my swim and I'm out a good 200m. I've swam 10km before in the sea, I'm fit enough, but I had been in a bicycle accident and fractured my dominant arm just 8 weeks prior. My natural confidence, my training, my accolades had resulted in my taking an unknown sea for granted. I looked to the sure, my girlfriend had vanished, no doubt going to lick her wounds from our previous verbal exchange.
I can honestly say the human mind is a strange thing under pressure. I thought back to being 12 and outright laughing at the tourists (emits, slang for ants in Cornish) who died every year often through a mix of alcohol and poor planning. The realisation of such past hubris was overwhelming. I also realised that the people I knew from there would be laughing at my death. I was now well over 1km from shore. My mind kicked in properly, I started swimming hard normal to the rip tide. After 5 minutes of treading water and thinking hard some rocks where looking achievable, so I decided to give it all in the hope of getting there, a fast sprint was my plan and thankfully this worked.
If ever I thought I'd given 100% to a physical activity before I was mistaken. My legs bore the brunt of this assault, my upper-body was uncoordinated due to the cycling injury. My watch was telling me I had been hard going for barely 10 minutes. I was not even half the way, my fear I think allowed for adrenaline to kick in, I was at this point making peace with death of drowning, as an asthmatic a death that has always scared me.
I made it to the rocks and to my joy I didn't need to climb along them, the rip tide was no more. I made it to shore. A half hour swim that had been like no other I've ever had and I hope will ever have. I was so upset with my ex for leaving me. Not watching nor caring as I had asked and she agreed. Going into the unknown water without someone aware is folly and I thought she would be observing me. Anger and most likely just bordem resulted in her not doing so.
TLDR: I was a good swimmer, I still so very nearly killed myself. Knowing when someone is in trouble requires education.
as an engineer, I assumed this ('normal') meant across/perpendicular/90 degrees to the rip tide, not against it ...
I believe 90 degrees to a rip tide is the correct thing to do ...
Also, a back-float is always generally a good strategy in salt water conditions when you've lost control or strength to swim. You carry over common waves and it takes very little energy.
Honestly, it sounds like you panicked.
The parent does mention swimming against a rip current, which would explain the need to swim at maximum physical exertion for an extended period of time. In that case I don't think he panicked.
Huh? Why are people writing this? You don't swim against a rip current.
It's a really smart idea, and while even an excellent swimmer can become fatigued the more experienced ones will be less likely to need aid than the less experienced ones.
I do work in this field (wireless vital signs monitoring) and unfortunately I don't know of any current technology that I would trust to monitor heart rate on a swimmer other than perhaps a chest strap (but not as a safety device either). For a point of reference, the Apple watch fails to accurately record heart rate when very sweaty or experiencing periodic movement (such as the periodic arm waving).
There was a kickstarter project for a swim safety device (mentioned by others in this thread) but I believe that was based around picking up the arm movement characteristic of this response, which may be a sensible approach (I don't know enough about the characteristic motions of the drowning response vs regular splashing).
A device for alerting for a drowning subject would be classified as a medical device (in Europe most likely class IIb as it is measuring a vital function in a life support scenario) as the malfunction of the device could fail to prevent the saving of a life. The burden of certification of such a device is understandably high, and one would have to be able to demonstrate that the device can accurately and reliably measure in its intended use and show that any risk that it doesn't has been adequately reduced (I'm simplifying greatly).
Unfortunately it's basically impossible to test, after all how would one get ethical approval for exposing subjects to conditions of near-drowning, so one would be dependent on placing prototype devices on swimmers and catching episodes of near-drowning by chance. It would take a considerable length of time to gather sufficient data to confirm the reliability of the device under such conditions, obviously...
(and no, I would not consider it appropriate to test the device under general swimming conditions as these would not adequately predict performance under drowning conditions).
In terms of cost, an earlobe pulse oximeter doesn't have to be more expensive than a fingertip one (aside from some miniaturisation costs perhaps) but part of the costs of these devices is due to patent issues: http://www.law360.com/articles/106524/philips-accuses-pulse-...
It wouldn't be able to interface with a device the lifeguard has in this case, but it could surely start making noise and/or flashing in an emergency.
That could easily kill someone, this is totally crazy advice.
Again, not saying it's a good idea, but the idea that it would kill someone suggests that I'm missing something I should know.
Regardless if it is in a semi-controlled setting and if the intent isn't to continue until you black out but only until you begin breathing in a panic it's still very dangerous. 
The second link doesn't mention timing except the standard 'five minutes' thing, while holding your breath for two minutes is probably going to lead to somewhere between 60 and 0 seconds of oxygen deprivation.
So I'm still unsure where the risk of dying comes from.
As far as I can tell most of the danger comes from the possibility of having someone hold you still while you panic, and that is not what I generally consider deadly.
Really not sure if I'm missing something...
No, it does not make sure of that, besides it said 'a couple' and not 'two' (depending on the person two might very well be enough to harm them, but some might interpret 'a couple' as being even more than two).
The person was suggested to be there to make sure you can't remove the bag yourself and by the time the bag is finally removed it may simply be too late.
"Any activity that deprives the brain of oxygen has the potential to cause moderate to severe brain cell death leading to permanent loss of neurological function ranging from difficulty in concentration or loss of short term memory capacity through severe, lifelong mental disability to death."
Suggesting people do this is highly irresponsible, this is probably the dumbest sub-thread I've seen on HN in all the time that I've been here, which is especially annoying because the main thread is one of the best.
That cites source 12, which doesn't seem to support the critical "any activity" part of the sentence, at least in terms of how long the oxygen deprivation lasts.
>95.7% of these deaths occurred while the youth was alone
Seems to support my skepticism for a strictly-timed co-operative activity.
I'm not even sure you'd end up in oxygen deprivation at all within a couple minutes when you start with a nice big breath.
I'm sorry you think my question is dumb. I was just hoping to learn something. At this point I'm feeling reasonably confident that I wasn't unaware of important information, and 'dying' was strong hyperbole. I'll note again that I don't support actually doing it.
Edit: to "mdup" below - i've specifically mentioned "until of course it is a part of the job" above - the major aspect of Milgram experiment was to present to the experiment subjects the shock delivery as a "duty".
> Specifically to drowning there is also oxygen blood content difference - harder to detect from outside, yet an unmistakable indicator.
CO2 buildup should be a more reliable indicator.
There's two things that such a device would need to have: quite low false positives (so that the lifeguard isn't distracted by false alarms - leading to a boy-who-cried-wolf scenario), and vanishingly small false negatives (the first time a kid dies because the device didn't work, it'll be a bad day). In-water RF would be very hard to do to make those two conditions true.
Edit: Don't get me wrong, I think it's a fabulous idea. Wearing my EE hat though, I haven't thought of a good way to do it that would work reliably enough for a life-saving device.
Maybe that's not such a bad thing overall though.
Followed shortly thereafter by "I wonder where you get/how you generate a dataset of the vital signs of drowning children..."
panic attack data set will get you halfway there and panic attacks happen naturally and sufficiently frequently. Add the dataset from something like asthma attacks (unfortunately it is easy to obtain too).
I nearly died that day - I tried as hard as I could to put my arms above the water and wave and yell, but I couldn't do much, and I don't really know what happened much after that. Everything went black. For a moment I felt a person touch me underwater, and then it was all black.
I woke up on the concrete next to the pool. I found out later that one of my other classmates had tried to rescue me by pulling me from the pool, but wasn't strong enough to pull me out. His sister, who was older and stronger, had been a lifeguard, dove in and pulled me out. My friend's father was a doctor, and had resuscitated me. They literally saved my life.
To this day, I'm 33, I can swim fine, but I still remember that experience like it was yesterday. I guess those things tend to stick. Whenever I am around a pool, I can't help but try to keep an eye out for people & children, just in case. I saw this one in 0.78s.
This site/video is a really good public safety announcement, especially since the weather just keeps getting hotter and more and more are bound for the pool. Thank goodness for the lifeguard in the video, and all our protectors out there.
In fact I was once swimming with the son of my dad's best friend in his teens, we'd only seen each other once before as our parents lived in different countries after they married. And somehow he went deep into the sea, and at some point I looked back and saw him flapping about. I must've been 15 or so at the time but somehow even though he didn't yell or scream, and even though we'd been pretty far from the beach for like a solid 5-10 minutes (giving me the impression he had no problem swimming), I got the impression he was drowning. I'm glad I responded, but looking back it felt awkward and it wasn't a clear cut situation where you feel this heroic impulse. I didn't know him very well, he was 2-3 years older than me and bigger, and he didn't indicate to me he had issues swimming, maybe he was just playing around (just like my gf likes to lay in pools face down for like a minute at a time, which looks way more suspicious of drowning!), I really didn't want to go up to him and hold him and find out he was totally fine, it'd just be really embarrassing, as if some kid a few years younger has to rescue him at sea. Either way despite him not yelling or anything, I did swim over and grabbed him and he started pushing me down violently as if I was a floatation device, so from there it was pretty clear, and we slowly made it back to the beach and he kept thanking me for years after everytime I see him. I tried to use the rescue techniques I'd learned as a child, to have someone float on your chest basically but that totally failed in the moment and I couldn't create a moment of control to calm him down and instruct him, I just did my best to swim up and to the beach. He basically pushed me down every other second, and then I'd swim up and catch a breather as best as possible, and somehow we made it back like that. Totally exhausted and out of breath right after, can't imagine how he must've felt.
The explanation on the linked website talks about how it can be difficult (and very dangerous) also for the rescuer, with the person grasping for life. I remember the initial panic I felt when I nearly drowned, but with nobody immediately around me, the panic was short and then followed by blackness as I fell unconscious.
Your story clearly points to the - how do I say it - lack of clarity when someone is drowning or not, and the dangers of rescuing as well. A person in that state of panic is simply in pure fight-or-flight mode trying to survive and that can be quite dangerous to rescuers.
I was lying with my wife next to the pool, casually watching. A small boy, maybe 6 or 7 years old, stepped to the ladder and climbed down into the water, in a completely confident, unspectacular way. With the water up to his neck, he did not start to swim, though, but just continued downwards, slowly to the ground of the basin. I loved to enter the pool this way as a little boy as well.
The boy made no movement underneath the water, at all. He just sank to the ground and that was it. There was nothing suspicious, and it took us some time to realize that he would not come back up. I would guess roughly two minutes. Then we and some people in the pool realized he was not moving for too long. The boy was quickly recovered, lifeguards rushed in and reanimated the boy. It was a remote location and it took the emergency doctors 15 minutes to arrive, in which the boy was puking, caughing and barking his soul out. His mother was just 10 meters away when it happened and had a complete nervous breakdown when they reanimated the child in front of her eyes.
So there was a happy end, but we were shocked to the bones that a child almost drowned in plain sight, 4 meters away from us, WHILE WE WERE WATCHING THE CHILD DROWN. The disturbing point was, that this child showed absolutely no signs of panic - he did not wave the arms, tried not to grab something, made no swimming movements with the legs, just nothing!
A few weeks later I was back in the same water park (which has a dozen of pools and slides) with a group of 7 boys in that age celebrating a birthday. I can tell you, I had no real fun that day, desperately trying to track the bunch and not loose them for a minute.
Having a tea party is much easier before you realize the danger consciously.
The reaction of babies is therefore perfectly adapted: stay calm, hold breath, wait until your lower density brings you back to the surface. Chaotic moves that counter this and burn your blood oxygen is actually what makes you drown yourself.
If you've got a lungful of air. Exhale first, and most people will sink like a stone.
My Dad had a trick, which I've done a few times myself as an adult, where he'd hyperventilate for a bit to get his blood heavily oxygenated, then exhale fully and just lie quietly on the bottom of the pool for a minute or so. (In the shallow end, so he only needed to stand up to breathe.) It's surprisingly soothing; after reading this thread, though, I'm not sure I'd do it at a public pool to avoid freaking out the lifeguard, and I certainly wouldn't teach any kids to do it.
(Floatation also depends a lot on your body fat percentage. Babies are very chubby, so they float, but I can imagine that a real lean kid in the middle of a growth spurt wouldn't be so buoyant.)
Did the boy do this intentionally? Did he go unconscious when entering the pool? Was he trying to stay under as long as he could? Why was he not moving at all on the way in?
<- Down-mods for relevant questions.
He entered the pool, face to the stairs, hands on the rails, continued to climb until the ladder ended (with his head already under water), released the rails, and sank, vertically, until the bottom. It was not a very deep pool, maybe 1.70m or so. He seemed to stand there, as if trying to see how long he could keep his breath. And when he shifted out of the upright position it became obvious that he was in trouble. A man standing next grabbed him, pulled him up, saw the boy was unconscious, started to shout for help and within seconds the boy was out of the pool and the lifeguards took over.
A child who doesn't know how to swim but is copying what they see others doing might be breathing as normal, have exhaled recently, and when they release the handles/ladder and enter the pool begin to sink. Not knowing how to swim and now head-under-water they are unable to get air into their lungs to have any amount of buoyancy.
Depends on a number of factors -- body composition (fat is less dense), how much air you have in your lungs (did you inhale or exhale before entering the water), etc.
It's just an interesting situation to think about, because how would you know? And, why wouldn't someone come up? Obviously he became unconscious at some point, but was it due to not being able to breathe? Or did something else happen to him as he was entering the water (eg. aneuyrsm, heart failure, etc). It's hard to believe it could have been an intentional act of the kid (suicide at 6? probably not very common) or that he would go into that part of the pool in the way you described without knowing how to swim.
As someone who speaks other languages, I know there's a point where it's hard to make progress because you are fluent enough to be understood easily and yet you make significant mistakes that nobody will bother to correct unless you ask.
Besides, the story wasn't about a generic child, but a "small boy, maybe 6 or 7 years old" and was referred to with "his", "he", etc. multiple times.
We often use neuter (gender-neutral) pronouns in English, just not this one. I've heard native English speakers say things like "If a mother wants to use the nursing room, they can just key in the code in their pamphlet". There are definitely restrictions on using 'gender-neutral they' but this kind of usage is totally normal.
Which is a great sentence, because semantically the pronoun referent is obligatorily female and singular. And yet, we use 'they' in this context. Which shows (among other things) that syntactic requirements can be relatively divorced from semantics. C'mon, that's pretty cool, right?
My two cents.
Some people speak more than one language.
> it was such a pure horror
> a happy end
> it did not wave the arms
> made no swimming movements with the legs
> a dozen of pools and slides
> 7 boys in that age
> not loose them
None of these are a big deal, though, and the writing was perfectly understandable.
The drowning did not wave the arms?
I was a lifeguard for five summers, Water Safety Instructor, and American Red Cross lifeguard instructor for several years. The training to be a lifeguard is surprisingly intensive -- it includes sections on attentiveness and observation strategy in addition to the actual rescue stuff.
Many pools have their guards rotate positions on a regular basis to combat fatigue and zoning out. At the pool where I worked, we'd have numerous lifeguards on duty at a time, rotating between the lifeguard chairs at fifteen-minute intervals. After a full rotation (usually about 45 minutes or a hour, depending on how crowded the pool was) we'd have some significant downtime to recharge.
We didn't have this at my pool, but there are some computer-aided monitoring systems on the market: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pool_safety_camera
My local pool removed the high chairs because of injuries sustained when the guards were scrambling down to perform a rescue; a chair six feet above a wet deck is quite dangerous.
Now the lifeguards stand on poolside and can dive-in immediately.
I'd spend every minute counting the kids, making sure none of them were missing. At the camp I worked on, you not only had to worry about actual drownings, but also administrators who would try and "steal" a kid about once a week from unobservant counsellors, then call a waterfront drill where all the lifeguards on staff had to search the entire waterfront for a "missing" camper. Until the drill was over, no-one involved (including the counsellor who had lost their kid, lifeguards wearing masks searching under the docks etc.) knew if it was real, or a drill.
In the 5-summers I worked there, I took it as a point of pride that none of my campers were ever stolen, and I never saw another counsellor have their kid successfully stolen more than once. The shame and terror of spending about 5-minutes thinking, "Oh shit, I might have just let a child die" was a pretty effective motivator.
I was a lifeguard, so I can speak with some authority. Both skills are necessary. Not only do you have to count and track swimmers, but you have to keep mental notes about their abilities, be aware of what they're doing, and imagine possible outcomes so you can identify and react quickly to the actual outcomes. If your attention wanders for too long, especially at a busy place, you can easily lose track of someone. If you lose track of the wrong person, well, buckle up.
Fortunately, there are usually multiple lifeguards on duty with you, you're usually on a strict 10- or 15-minute rotation with them, and one of the stations is the break room. That helps a lot.
Lifeguarding at a camp is at least 5 times more difficult than at a pool, and I suspect that's why they ran drills to keep the lifeguards on their toes. Underwater visibility is usually next to nothing. The lake is usually full of teenage boys. Access to the water is effectively unlimited. There are often a lot of occluders, such as boats and bushy shores.
1) To keep counsellors attentive to the specific children under their care.
2) To give the lifeguard's the chance to practice their missing child search procedures.
It was stressful, and it was effective.
That said, my bosses weren't huge assholes and didn't disappear kids regularly like yours sound like they did. We had drills, but you could tell by the demeanor of the director that it wasn't real.
Plus, it wasn't a secret. We all knew it was happening. If all the counsellors down by the waterfront were being attentive and they couldn't steal a camper, one of the admins would just come up to a counsellor and ask us to take one of our kids, and tell us to go report a missing camper to the lifeguard in about 5-minutes.
Now as a parent, I'd much rather send my kid to a camp where the counsellors are terrified of losing my kid, than one where they're not.
There are many better, more effective ways to ensure you're not going to lose a kid. We did things like count children before/after each activity, run drills at regular (not weekly) intervals, etc.
We also had games where kids were left to run in the forest for multiple hours unaccompanied (variations on capture the flag). The kids loved it, your kid would love it, and the counselors in charge of your kid wouldn't be obsessively paranoid about the exact location of your child at every single moment because that level of attention just isn't necessary.
The point of drills that simulate reality effectively is to get you comfortable enough with taking the necessary actions at the required times that you will not have terror instilled in you. This is why armies around the world all do 'live fire' exeercise and so on, and why companies run BAU or DR failover tests.
If not, then yeah this is a terrible idea.
Really the most worrying part of the whole thing was teaching the stolen kids that if an adult walks up to them and tells them to quietly sneak away, they get ice cream.
The job was sometimes so intense I'd wake up in the middle of the night in a panic because I thought I had forgotten my whistle or someone was having an emergency. Props to anyone who does it. When executed well and carefully, it's not exceptionally hard work but any lapse of judgement for even a moment can lead to disaster.
I had the same waking panics while being a camp counsellor. We'd have 7 day sessions with 3 day breaks in between and quite often those breaks were punctuated with waking up bolt upright to figure out where my kids were. Took a while for that to pass.
Also took a while to remember how to eat slowly (you eat quick, or you don't eat!)
To be educational, this should have a 'watch again' feature, or show the video controls, so I can actually re-watch the scene and watch for the features of drowning.
I'm sure I could have noticed it, but somehow I didn't. Mostly, but perhaps not entirely, my fault.
Also, how do you differentiate the drowning response from someone that's just bad at treading water and floats low in the water? They might both be bobbing just in and out of the water, but one of them can just transition to floating on their back and the other is trying to not drown. (I haven't swam in forever and don't know if I can even swim anymore, but I was reminded of childhood swimming lesson tests.)
Always trust yourself. Any suspicion on your part is more than enough reason to go help. These guards have excellent reactions and don't try to make a judgement call between distress and drowning. While new to the job, I hesitated trying to verify patrons needed a rescue instead of going in immediately.
While this is anecdotal, I also found that poor treaders often made attempts to move to more secure depths. Struggling is no fun, and most people swim to have fun. The dangerous cases were people who did not know their swimming ability chasing family into the deep end.
Lastly we didn't allow floaties in the water, and I think everyone who sees this video should notice the trend and think twice about them.
Watch the face, arms and legs, and water surface. A swimmer in distress has his mouth as high as possible, may be flailing a little with his arms, barely kicks (if at all), barely disturbs the surface of the water, and goes under repeatedly.
But as a lifeguard, I helped weak swimmers, and then requested very firmly that they stay in shallow water. I also took their names so I could get their attention quickly if they wandered too close to the deep end.
Do adults drown as often as children?
When an adult or adolescent drowns, it looks exactly the same, they're much more dangerous to would-be helpers, and half the time they're drunk and surrounded by drunk people.
Deaths per 100,000 people (drowning), Canada, 2006-2010:
I don't have the source handy, but I'll try to dig it up.
Edit: Source - http://www.lifesavingsociety.com/media/157475/2013-cdndrowni...
I did 18-24, it says 1.18.
I wonder what factors into the differences. I'm sure things like number of guarded facilities, number of swimmers and amount of swim classes are important, it's the specific differences that would be interesting.
I've played water polo for several years. When participating in an activity where it's mandatory to wear a life jacket, I do, but is there really a point?
But first: another water poloist! Awesome! Water polo was pretty small in my area, so we didn't have a lot of talent in the pool. (Pun intended.) I swam distance on the swim team and was a decent sprinter, so my coach had me play both offensive and defensive hole. My best friend could keep his navel above the water for minutes, so he played keeper behind me. I still love to get my hands on a ball and demo the backwards corner shot. Fun times.
Conscious able swimmers have usually been taught how to lie still and float on their backs, or will figure it out quickly if in calm water. They can often call for help, and will do so, interspersed with periods of rest. (Shouting takes a lot of energy.) If the water is warm, they might have hours to get rescued. If the water is cold or even just lukewarm, how long they have depends on a lot of factors, especially the temperature and whether hypothermia is setting in - but in any case they have a lot less time.
Able swimmers, especially those who are good enough to swim a mile, often underestimate the effects of cold water on the body.
They also tend to underestimate the tremendous strength of moving water. Anybody in moving water who is in distress should be helped ASAP, no matter how good they are at swimming. Moving water is a destroyer and an equalizer.
That leaves us with unconscious swimmers. Nobody swims well while unconscious. :) If there's a chance something could knock you out, whether a boat, an overhanging branch, exposure to cold water, or (for those of extended age) a heart attack, put on a well-fitting life jacket.
In my team the hole would go defend number 3 usually. Defending the other hole is intense.
I see, moving water, cold water and being knocked out. Thanks for the explanation!
But at least keep the life jacket near you (ie on the boat), that way you can put it on if necessary - and never ever go out unless there is a suitable life jacket for every person on the boat.
Also never wear an inflated life jacket inside a ship (if it sinks and you become trapped you can't escape).
>Many passengers died because they inflated their life jackets in the cabin, causing them to be trapped inside by the rising water. This led to future notices about not inflating the vests before exiting the plane.
Your brain soon kicks into holding your breath while watching kids swim, if one is splashing around while you start to feel uncomfortable it's time to wade in and drag them to the surface.
Often for us it was the uneven sea bottom, someone takes a step forward and plunges out of their depth. Run over and hoik them out.
To this day, when the surf is up and I see toddlers paddling I get chills and can't stop watching them. Doesn't take more than an inch of water for them to fall and start rolling out with the backwash.
I learned a new word today.
>2. To lift something up wildly.
To hoik a golly. I last heard that in the 70s. Not so charming...
2. They are are at the pool, not watching a grainy video via YouTube
Many people are embarrassed by their inability to swim and so won't mention it in circumstances that you would expect them to -- visits to water parks, beaches, lakes, or even acting jobs that involve being pushed off a dock into a lake (oy). Don't assume that a person can swim, even if they tell you otherwise.
If you're swimming in crowded conditions, this can happen when you least expect it. I don't actually remember learning to swim, so it wasn't remarkable that I was hanging out, treading water, in the deep end at a resort at the age of six or seven. What was remarkable was suddenly finding myself at the bottom, thrust down by strong adult hands. Apparently my instincts were good, so before surfacing I swam away from the non-swimming adult who had just descended a ladder and grabbed the first thing that came to hand. Apparently the buoyancy she got from me was enough to get her back to the ladder. Several minutes later I was telling my mother that I thought someone had dunked me, when the non-swimming woman came up and tearfully apologized.
Teach your kids to swim, while they're very young!
Fyi, the same rules apply when rescuing people from cliffs or other high places. Don't ever "throw them a rope". Don't approach until ready. They will latch onto anything nearby even if that means them falling because they cannot hold (human hands cannot properly hold bodyweight on modern nylon ropes).
To be clear, that's what Boy Scout lifesaving training taught you, not what HN taught me.
It's dangerous to attempt a rescue technique based on a vague memory of a forum comment.
Get trained, like Joe did.
You dip them and punch them if you have to. Incredibly dangerous when they grab on to you.
There is a reason life guards grab from behind and disable the arms.
When I was swimming across the deep end, he decided to jump onto my shoulders as I surfaced. As I said, he was nearly as big as I was and since I was in the deep end, I couldn't use my feet to gain the leverage I needed to throw him off. After about ten seconds of struggling to get him off of me, I felt that the only recourse I had was to bite him and send the message non-verbally. I grabbed his calf and ankle and pulled them toward my mouth. As soon as my teeth touched his skin, he got the message and got off of me. I ended up not having to bite him but at that point I really wanted to.
All of this transpired in about 15 seconds and the lifeguard never noticed (To be honest, this was a long time ago and I don't even remember if there was a lifeguard on duty at the time) but I never took my safety for granted ever again. Just because I can swim well enough to get myself out of trouble doesn't mean that someone else acting like an idiot can't endanger me.
Having been a competitive swimmer in my younger days I have generally been confident in my swimming abilities. This time however, I suddenly found myself in a current pulling me outwards.
I didnt realize what was happening before I was really tired and noticed that the shore was not getting closer no matter how hard I swam. I was literally 15 feet from the shoreline, and I was about to drown. I was too tired to do anything but focus on keeping myself afloat. I had eye contact with my friends 25 feet away. They smiled and waved. I was panicing and was just about to give up when reruns of Bondi Rescue popped up in my head and reminded me to swim sideways instead of forward. 5 seconds later I have sand under my feet. I crawled on to the shore and laid there panting for a few minutes.
I wobbled my way to my friends who greeted me with smiles and asked how I enjoyed my swim.
That's the story of how I nearly drowned in frobt of my friends, who would have been none the wiser until it was too late.
Be carefull around water, people!
Rules of the pool:
1) Don't run around a pool
2) NEVER push someone into a pool
3) Don't dive into a pool unless it's meant for diving (I recently dove into a pool and ate the plaster on the other side, if it hadn't been for her voice parroting in my head to stay calm I may have freaked out and drowned...in the shallow end, in front of my family
4) Absolutely no flotation devices in the pool that were big and round, especially innertubes (tell me how fun they are until you jump onto one and have it flip back and whack your head against the concrete side of the pool).
So you really only have 2-3 seconds to spot the child.
Those kids also don't seem to be able to swim. In The Netherlands its obligatory for children to have their swim diploma before being allowed in the deep end. Also since swim school is part of primary education not many children exist above the age of thirteen that can't swim that I'm aware of. Is it different in the states?
Most people who can't are in landlocked states and whose family either does not go to public pools or none of the family has a private pool.
No pool, no beach, no "real reason" to learn to swim.
Is this in any way related or inspired by that post?
>Inspired by this hackernews thread: can you notice who's drowning in the pool before the lifeguard does?
Answered my own question by reading the About on the Github. :D
This is a great thing to share on Facebook (for those who have it). It's one of the lessons that really sticks with someone, because of how terrifying the reality of drowning really is. So thank you for sharing/making it.
Also for the timer "score", might I suggest clarifying it a bit with "faster/slower than the lifeguard"? I was a bit confused if my time was +0.82s past the lifeguard noticing" or "0.82s faster". I had to 'play' a second time and purposefully click late to figure it out.
>Nicely done. +0.82s
I think it should be made a bigger deal of. Often holiday pools are not guarded and if everyone around knows the signs then someone can be saved.
Things spread insanely fast on Facebook. If a few parents shared this website and their also-parent friends shared it with their friends it could easily get millions of views within several days. And parents would share this information.
If you think it should be made a bigger deal of - why not make it a bigger deal? Message your school district representatives about swimming education, especially identifying when someone is drowning. Start a funding for a public pool for your town/city, if one doesn't exist, and support the school organizing "field trips" to the public pool to provide such an education.
You'll likely get ignored. So start talking with other parents and make it a large enough issue that it can't be ignored. I don't think many parents would be against their child being taught how to swim, practice pool safety, and learn a life skill that could save someone's life. The main issue is getting them to think about it in the first place.
The hardest part about getting anything done is finding a leader with the drive and ability to get things done. Few people want to step up and even fewer of those that are willing are capable.
It would also help if the video automatically scaled to fill as much of the window as possible. On my screen it was a quarter of the entire screen and everything was really tiny.
I'll look into a good cross-browser auto zoom.
I also had some trouble getting the hang of what I was supposed to do. I'd recommend an interstitial to get people going before the video starts. Maybe something like this?
You are about to watch a recorded video of typical activity at a pool. Help the life guard watch all the swimmers in your half of the pool.
If you see someone who needs help from the life guard, click on them in the video and check the results at the bottom of the video.
Since life guards can't do it (as much as they might wish they could!) don't rewind, pause or click the video while being tested unless you would be ready to blow the whistle, jump in, and swim to someone.
This is a great use of the web. Good job!
My mom got me and my sister swimming at an extremely young age (I don't ever remember learning, as far back as my memory goes, I have always been able to swim). And then got us doing competitive swim team in the summers as early as possible (I think age 5).
I'm quite grateful for this, as not once in my life have I ever felt in danger in the water. Also, in a world of overconsumption (and abundant sugar), swimming is a great way to keep your kids in shape.
For Silicon Valley based parents, recommend AVAC. http://www.avac.us/