July 7, 2010


Stop the Losses

Reading of yet another person drowning here in Ontario is breaking my heart.

This doesn't have to happen. I've always said that if you live in Canada, you have to know how to swim and skate. The difference, of course, is that if you can't skate it won't kill you. But knowing how to swim should be as fundamental as learning how to walk. We have a lot of lakes and pools. Kids should rightly be able to safely play in them; everyone should be able to.

We've had a cottage on a small, deep, quiet lake for nearly 40 years. We've all known how to swim since we were toddlers; my British mother, who nearly drowned herself in England in a huge, crowded public pool, made sure of it. She didn't like swimming, but she hauled us all the Y, first in Hamilton, then in Burlington when it opened, to make sure we would be safe. We all took lessons, and at the cottage, there were rules.

We could never swim alone. Someone had to be on the dock. If you have kids (and yes, even teens), someone needs to be watching who isn't in the pool or lake. Little ones should never be beyond arms reach, and if there is no life guard on duty, someone needs to sit out. You can't see what's going on if you're splashing and swimming yourself.

You know those ads they're running now about staying away from waters near power generator stations? Make sure your kids see them. Calm water can develop instantly strong currents when power stations affect the flow. There are signs; beg, bribe or threaten your kids to obey them.

My Dad wasn't much of a rule guy, but whenever he swam the length of our lake, one of us had to canoe alongside him. He never, ever held the rope or needed help. But that wasn't the point. A cramp can kill you, and he knew it.

If you're at a cottage or camp, do not go on boats or sea-doos without life jackets. Just do not. Tell the kids it's not because they can't swim: it's in case they slip and smack their head. And, please, do not put your kids in jackets and then decline to wear one yourself. This makes me nuts to see.

If you have guests with you, ask if they are swimmers. If not, treat them like 2-year-olds in the water. Don't let them out of your reach.

Don't swim drunk.

Make sure you know how to float if you get in trouble. Sounds basic, but panicking usually does people in first. First of every season, make everyone practice for a few minutes. Get in trouble, flip on your back.

Those little blow up water wings are dangerous. Stupid dangerous crap from the dollar store should not be amongst your swimming gear. Make sure you have a decent flutter board on hand: it's a cheap, easy thing to take out to anyone, and may save a life you have to haul back to shore.

To families who have lost people, I'm so sorry. To everyone else, don't let it happen again. Nature is spectacular, but she's always gonna win if you test her.

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13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so with you on this one!
This is my first summer owning a pool and as wonderful as it is, it also scares the crap out of me. When my 16 yr old told me he went for a swim after school one day I lost it on him. I have worked very hard to get across the point that the pool is a fabulous thing, but also extremely dangerous.
I won't even go in it when I'm home alone....you just never know when you could fall and smack your head and fall in the pool....and you're done if nobody else is around.

July 07, 2010 2:32 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Sooooooooo...you have a pool?
(Checks soaring temperature)

I'll come watch your 16-year-old. Wait. That came out wrong.

July 07, 2010 2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL.....if it meant he could get in the pool while I was still at work, I don't think he would care!

July 07, 2010 3:25 PM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

Our daughters tried everything when they were growing up. We let them choose the sports they wanted to pursue. Except swimming. That was mandatory. They both have their Bronze Medallions. And we still have those same rules. No swimming unless there is someone around who's not in the pool. 17 and 20 year olds are the last people you can trust to moderate their behaviour in a pool.

53 year olds are pretty moronic sometimes too.

July 07, 2010 3:29 PM  
Anonymous OwlSaysWho said...

As much as I love the water, I also crnge when I hear of drownings. Most are avoidable using simple common sense . . . then again, maybe it's not so common. Good post!

July 07, 2010 4:29 PM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

Regardless of how strong and competent an indivual may be when it comes to swimming, feces can and will occur.

While we may be able to compensate for stupidity, try reasoning with Mother Nature.

Death generally, is a sad and painful outcome, regardless of the circumstance. Not to make excuses, but there will be many more some avoidable deaths as a result of water misadventures before this short season ends. I also do not believe we hear of all of them. Regardless, each is a tragedy in their own way.

Facilities with lifeguards and other means of monitoring, including parental controls, are not flawless.

A person can drown in 10 seconds. 10 seconds, people. To most of us, that is a flash, a moment. To the individual struggling to live, it likely feels like it's forever.

July 08, 2010 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

feces? maybe go to the bathroom before you go swimming?

July 08, 2010 10:44 AM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

Ozzie... I don't know if that was a misadventure in cutting and pasting but that first sentence has pretty much assured that your swimming invitations will show a marked decrease over last year's.

If someone asks if you're feeling pooped... step away from my pool.

July 08, 2010 1:35 PM  
Anonymous jmd said...

OK, that made me laugh. Out loud.

July 08, 2010 3:18 PM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

Daer Felonious One...no error. Take as you wish. Have my own pool to dump in anyway! No need for chemicals to determine if things turn shitty. I usually bring my own Depends, anyway. Mostly new ones...

July 08, 2010 3:47 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Stop. All of you. Just stop.

I'll do another post just to put an end to this....stuff.

July 08, 2010 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See...this is what happens when you leave us to our own means....a serious topic, a well meaning blog and the discussion eventually ends up in the toilet....shite happens!

July 08, 2010 4:25 PM  
Blogger DJW said...

Anyone for an O Henry bar?

(Remember Caddyshack?)

July 09, 2010 3:46 PM  

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