Holy crap, I am so glad your dad taught you what to do in that situation. Also, I'm glad you had the strength to push yourself away from Leanne, if only for two seconds. Gah.
My dad was kind of a goofus in many ways, but he was really good with Worst Case Scenario stuff. I'm sure he was thoroughly sick of our pretend drownings that first day, but it definitely paid off that we'd learned the lesson so well.
I read your linked post somewhere else, and found it very interesting.
And your post about nearly drowning...I find water a very forgiving medium, and yet it can be terrifying. I felt your panic when I read this.
I'm going looking for your post about nearly being drowned when you were 12.
Alas, I am a terrible tagger. I have no idea where it is.
Water is wonderful, but it is also merciless.
I love that article. I haven't had an active lifeguard certification in many many years, but it's all good information to know. And thanks to Baywatch, we just have no idea what real drowning looks like.
I know what you mean, though. I had a pretty bad scare once as a child (when i was very young) that put me off swimming till almost high school. Once I got back in, though, I never wanted to leave. Weird how that goes.
Nothing ever made me want to leave the pool, but I just can't do SCUBA. Which pisses me off.
The same author also wrote http://gcaptain.com/maritime/blog/cold_water?11198
which is also well worth reading
Cliff notes version: if you fall in cold water IT IS BAD; drowning is likely, wear a life jacket even if you are super-good swimmer.
The closest I have come to drowning was falling suddenly from a punt (small river boat) into a cold river (not even close to cold enough for the cold alone to be a problem) - the shock of the sudden cold and the impact at an odd angle disoriented me so completely that it took WAY longer than it should have to find the surface.
When we went out in boats in Alaska, we always wore life jackets.
Disorientation is a serious problem. I'm glad you were okay!
Thanks for reposting. The scariest near-drownings I've been involved with were other people's, and they were terrifying. I learned to swim when I was very young, and I spend a lot of time around water. I'm always amazed at the stupid things people do (like riding jet skis without life jackets...)
The foolishness of people never ceases to amaze me.
he taught us that if we stepped into a pothole, we (who couldn't really swim yet), should jump up, kicking, break the surface and yell "Help!"
Here's one part I hope gets across loud and clear to anyone with children (or any adults who can't swim):
ANYONE WHO CANNOT SWIM WELL SHOULD HAVE EYES ON THEM AT ALL TIMES WHILE IN OR NEAR WATER OVER THEIR HEADS.
Or in water not over their heads. Or even if there's a slight chance they could get into water over their heads. Anyone, ANYONE, who cannot swim their way out of whatever they might swim or fall into should not have to yell for help to get someone's attention.
Drowning causes the deaths of more children in the US than anything save car accidents. Sadly, like auto accident fatalities, most are easily preventable.
Teach your kids, and yourselves, to swim as early as possible. If you live or spend any time near a body of water (or a swimming pool), this is not merely recreation, it's a survival skill.
I completely agree with you that kids should learn to swim as early as possible. And that kids should be watched like hawks when they are in the water, even if they can swim. We were both in swimming lessons, and we were both being watched. But my dad was also paranoid enough to know that even in the best of times there are moments when parents get distracted. He always wanted us to have the best chance of survival in a bad situation.
I have pulled kids out of deep water during swimming lessons when the teacher was working with other children in the class. I have jumped fully dressed into pools to grab kids whose mothers were right there on the deck but watching Kid Two. Even attentive parents brainfart now and then.
Thank you so much for posting that article. I'm an avid reader and after reading this, I'm so glad I am. I'm linking my fb and LJ to the article to share among more parents and water-lovers...
2010-07-09 02:21 pm (UTC)
Re: it's so important to educate
If it saves one life, it's worth it.
That was one of the things they taught us in junior lifeguard class - listen for quiet spots.
Then again our pool wasn't very big and quite a few of us had taken the free lifeguard classes. We hauled more than one toddler out who got in trouble when their Mom wasn't looking, was sunbathing, whatever.
I had to teach my kids to swim. Both of them (and one was adopted - no blood relation) leapt off by the 6 foot with a "Mom watch this" before age 3. Both times I had to go in after them clothes and all. Both of them figured if I could swim so could they. They learned after that let me tell ya and so did I - man they can be QUICK and slippery.
Come to think of it I also learned to wear my suit even when picking up my stepdaughter from the pool :D Came in handy when her oldest pulled the same stunt at the same pool right below the same lifeguard chair ...........
Pulling toddlers out of pools while their moms thought they were watching was one of my regular self-imposed duties when I was in high school (we lived in an apartment complex with a pool). People think they are being more careful than they actually are. A bunch of us started teaching free swimming lessons on a completely volunteer basis because so many kids had to be rescued.
I know what you mean about not being afraid in spite of near-drowning. I don't remember my own near-drowning-- wave pool, tube got away from me, then I'm on a deck chair with a lifeguard and a reporter, and I didn't tell anyone when I got back to the group-- and I still love wave pools. I'm actually much more freaked out by *currents*, especially any that could pull me toward (comparatively mild) danger.
I recently, as in a few days before the linked article made the rounds, saw a toddler (not mine) lose her footing in the kiddie pool and begin to float face-down in the water. She immediately went into Instinctive Drowning Response, albeit horizontally. Her arms shot straight out and fluttered just below the surface of the water; she couldn't get her face up far enough to breathe, even though her back and the top of her head were above the waterline.
Someone closer to her also saw it and grabbed her and lifted her out well before she was in major danger, but what chilled me—and the article called this out—was that it was utterly silent. No thrashing, no splashes, no screams. Nothing. If I hadn't been looking right at her, I'd have missed it entirely. If nobody had been looking at her, she could have drowned in silence.
That is extremely chilling. Yikes.
I am extremely extremely extremely afraid of drowning. Your post will give me lovely nightmares. That's okay, though, because I am tired of dreaming about bacon and kittens.
It's not what I'm usually looking for in the line of being of service, but at least it's something....
when my son was 10, his dad and his g/f took all the kids (she had a son our son's age, and her granddaughter) went to the beach in florida. i dont do well in too much heat/sun, so i stayed home.
the two boys got caught in a ripcurrent. and were 20 yards down the beach screaming before wolf could get off the blanket. the lifeguard earned his pay that day, both boys were fine.
i never want to hear about something like that again, ever. it was terrifying, and both of them were good swimmers.
We also got riptide training from Dad; the Oregon coast is famous for them. I never got swept out by one, but did have a couple scary moments with my feet planted, fighting to stay upright.
And he and Mom taught us never to turn our back on the ocean. Which, after seeing a couple people slammed into rocks and badly bloodied by a rogue wave, is a lesson I'm glad to have followed.
Thank you for that excellent link! As nanny to two kids, 6 & 8, Mom told me I could relax at the beach because they passed their "deep water" test. Now I'll be still vigilant, as I realize again that even good swimmers can have a problem.
The comments to the article are pretty frightening. We are going to Disney with a total of 8 kids, and you can believe that, even though their parents will all be in charge of them, I will be keeping an eye on them while we are swimming!
Being another young fish back in the day, I agree with you that I have no fear of water on my own. I know that I can float with zero effort on my part and move in still water with little more than that. So... really, unless I'm far enough from land that I have to worry about going to sleep.
As for worrying about OTHER people when swimming... I also had the rare pleasure of taking a lifeguard certification course... when I was 12. It's a long story how I got in, but I took another when I was 16 and I was glad I had the previous experience. Because sometime in the intervening 4 years, the Red Cross changed the course of study. Or maybe I just had a fantastic instructor the first time. Because he taught me three very important things.
A) A drowning victim doesn't want to pull you down. They want to pull themselves UP. They are simply trying to pull themselves up BY YOU. In some circumstances, they will try to climb ONTOP of you to get there. It's instinctual.
B) An easy way to stop struggling with them? Blow out all your air and go down. You have to fight your own instincts to do it, but do it. If you start pulling them down, they will drop you like a hot rock.
C) If they are grappling with you and you can't go down, you have to overrule their instinct not to drown with another instinct. The easiest is the instinct to flee pain. And, since the instinct not to drown is very strong, it has to be ALOT of pain. He then gave the entire class a series of pointers that would get you kicked out of any sport fighting league you care to name and are probably frowned upon specificially in the Geneva Convention. When one girl in the class asked if the methods in question were a bit extreme (fun fact: Ears are detachable!), he looked at her levelly and said "First priority: Survive. Secord Priority: Make sure they survive. Third Priority: Maim as little as possible. You can always apologize for hurting them later. But it's damn hard to apologize to a corpse."
Dad taught us that, too. Reading through the comments to that article, there are people there who had to abandon friends to save themselves. What an awful thing to have to live with.
I never really thought about it that way, but there are definite parallels.
My sister, who is mentally and physically disabled, loves water. She cannot swim and doesn't really understand that she can't, and although I believe they tried to teach her some floating skills, I can't say she really has that, either.
Once, after a session at the largest local pool, the person attending her didn't pay attention after she was dressed, and didn't notice her heading back to the pool. If not for my mother looking for her, and some other adult discovering her and restraining her, she would have gone into the empty pool at the deep end (4 meters) and drowned by the time the next group of swimmers arrived.
When we were at the beach, I was often charged with watching her in the water. She'd love to sit or stand in the shallows and let waves wash over her. Once, when we were standing in slightly deeper water, just up to my waist, a wave knocked her off her feet, leaving her completely submerged. It was only a moment before I pulled her back up, but I will never forget how she sat there on the bottom and not struggling or acting against the water in any way. I don't think she ever even realized the situation might be dangerous. And I don't think she could have gotten herself back above the surface even if she had.
Personally, I get scared in lakes/oceans if I cannot touch the bottom with my toes and still breathe. I love water too, but I need that certainty.
It's scary to be in charge of that. I'm glad it worked out okay.
2010-07-09 10:06 pm (UTC)
Man, the things I did in the water when I was a kid (and in cars, the #1
cause), I've got to wonder how I survived to adulthood.
Truly, I think we all wonder that.
I'm trying to picture a guy sprinting through water.
I've seen it, up to knee level or so. Then he swam.
Wow, the holding hands thing really bothers me - holding hands with someone the same size as you and who is likely not strong enough to pull you up is more dangerous, not less. :-/ Oof, I found this sentence really chilling: "She was going to drown us, standing stock still in water just over our heads."
Did she not even have the panic response of trying to get out over the water because she was holding your hand? Oof. SCARY.
She just froze.
I've seen it in other people. One time when Erin was 3 and was taking swimming lessons, a little boy bounced himself off the edge of the platform and under water while the instructor had her back turned. I immediately leapt forward, threw myself down on the pool deck, and pulled him out. He wasn't even disturbed by this and went right back to the lesson. His mother, who was sitting right beside me, thanked me profusely when I returned to the bench. "I just froze," she gasped. "I couldn't even move!"
Glad I was there.