Water safety depends on swimming, lifesaving skills

May 15 is International Water Safety Day

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross Volunteer

Those of us who live in northern Ohio are never very far from water: Lake Erie, swimming pools, ponds, reservoirs and rivers. Even water parks, hot tubs and spas.

All that water offers lots of opportunities for fun, but it also poses a very real – sometimes tragic – hazard.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 4,000 people die of drowning every year in the United States. To put a finer point on it, drowning is the #1 cause of accidental death of children age 1 to 4.

The Bennett family of University Heights came harrowingly close to those statistics earlier this year. While on vacation, their four-year-old found her way into a backyard pool and was discovered unconscious at the bottom.

Fortunately, her 15-year-old sister, Ayala, had completed an American Red Cross lifeguarding, first aid and CPR course just two weeks earlier. She was able to perform CPR until medical help arrived and the little girl recovered.

Ayala Bennett, flanked by her father Josh and mother Raizel

For her lifesaving action, Ayala received the Red Cross Certificate of Merit, the highest award given by the Red Cross to people who save or sustain a life using skills learned in a Red Cross course. The Red Cross also recognized Shira Goldsmith of Goldsmith Swim School, who taught Ayala’s lifesaving class. “It made me feel so good, that she was able to save her sister,” Shira said. “It made me think, this is why I do what I do.”

Shira was just a teenager herself when she realized there weren’t enough lifeguards to safely supervise children in backyard pools in her neighborhood, so she got trained. “I did my first rescue at 15,” she recalled. She’ll never forget the rush of adrenaline and the overwhelming relief of success.

Shira Goldsmith, Goldsmith Swim School

Passionate about water safety, Shira teaches swimming as well as lifeguarding, first aid and CPR as a high school elective. She also has many students with special needs, African Americans and members of her Jewish faith.

“Even if you don’t know how to swim, learn CPR,” she emphasized. “You never know.”

The Red Cross certifies trainers like Shira as part of its mission to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies.

As we mark International Water Safety Day, the Red Cross offers these reminders:
 Learn to swim competently and be sure your children do too! Go to RedCross.org/TakeAClass
 Swim as a pair near a lifeguard’s chair. Never swim alone.
 Reach or throw, don’t go. Don’t enter the water to rescue someone unless you’re trained.
 Look before you leap. Be sure it’s a safe place and time to swim.
 Follow the rules. Listen to the lifeguards.
 Don’t just pack it. Wear that life jacket.
 Think so you don’t sink. Floating or treading water can help you make good decisions.
 Don’t fool with a pool or spa: Fence it with self-latching gates.
 Download the American Red Cross Swim app for more tips and tools for water safety for the whole family.

The American Red Cross is a nonprofit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or CruzRojaAmericana.org, or follow us on Twitter at @RedCross.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

Posted by Ryan Lang, Red Cross board member and volunteer

Tips for a summer of water fun on International Water Safety Day

By Sue Wilson, American Red Cross volunteer and former nine- year board member

As warm weather arrives in our area after a long winter, many are anxious to get in andSwimming and Water Safety manual 2014 enjoy the many natural water resources Northeast Ohio is fortunate to have, from magnificent Lake Erie and its islands, to the beautiful Cuyahoga River. In the Akron area, thousands enjoy boating, swimming and water skiing on the Portage Lakes in additional to local ponds, lakes and pools. It is crucial that adults and children are committed to water safety and take precautions as they prepare for a summer of water fun.

May 15th is International Water Safety Day, and the American Red Cross encourages you to “do your part, be water smart.”  The goal of Water Safety Day is to spread awareness Aquatic Centennial Campaign 2016of the ongoing drowning pandemic in the United States and around the world, and educate people to be safe in and around water. Among preventable injuries, drowning is the leading cause of death for children one to four years old. But people of all ages can drown in all kinds of situations.

Here are some water smart safety tips to get ready for summer fun:

  • Talk to your family, and all adult caregivers, about the importance of water safety and commit to safety rules. Take the Pool Safely Pledge and share it on your social media. Use the hashtags #PledgeItOn and #IWSD. Challenge your friends and family to join you and take the pledge as well.
  • Download the Red Cross Swim App for a variety of kid-friendly games, videos and quizzes. Water safety information for parents for a variety of aquatic environments (waterpark, pool, beach, lake) is also included as well as a progress-checker for swim lessons.
  • Learn to swim. People can find age-appropriate water orientation and Learn-to-Swim programs for themselves and their family members by contacting their local aquatic facility and asking for American Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety programs, or by visiting redcross.org/watersafety.

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Water safety goes beyond the outdoors. International Water Safety Day is a good time to think about water safety around the house, too:

  • Watch kids when they are in or around water, without being distracted.
  • Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and kiddie pools immediately after use.
  • Close toilet lids and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning.
  • Install fences around home pools.
  • Know what to do in an emergency. Take a CPR or First Aid Class through your local Red Cross.

Find more water safety tips here.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer