Water Watchers: The Importance of Adult Supervision at the Beach
It’s beach day. Is it your turn to be the Water Watcher?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) puts the official total length of shoreline in the United States at 95,417 miles. That’s a lot of beaches! Much of this area is where we’d take the family for an enjoyable day at the beach.
It’s also a place filled with hidden dangers that children, in particular, might not fully understand. Young minds may not comprehend the concept of a rip current or what the brightly colored flags flying at the lifeguard station mean – if there’s a lifeguard station at all. Beyond teaching them the importance of beach safety, our children need Water Watchers.
According to the National Swimming Pool Foundation, three children die every day as a result of drowning. We can make it safer for them to be around water by designating a “Water Watcher.” When a Water Watcher is designated, it’s their job to do nothing else but supervise children around water – and with absolutely no distractions.
Who can be a Water Watcher? Anyone who:
is at least 16 years old
is alert and not under the influence of alcohol
understands how to recognize or rescue someone in distress, or can alert someone else
knows CPR or how to alert someone who does
has a working phone connection that can dial 9-1-1
has a floating object that can be used in a rescue
Almost anybody can be a Water Watcher. There’s no reason to shy away even if you aren’t certified in CPR. What’s the most important thing? Your undivided attention.
Now, back to the beach. Here are things you can do to help children be safer around the water there.
Watch for flags
Understand and respect the power of the waves. Children, in particular, may have a difficult time realizing how powerful waves can be. It’s important to teach children to never put their backs to the waves. Water Watchers should pay careful attention to children who are playing in the water right on the shore.
If you will be entering the water, do you know what those flags mean? Each state may have different colors assigned to situations, but generally:
Red means there’s either strong surf or current. In many cases, it means you should not enter the water.
Yellow means there’s moderate surf or current. Exercise caution.
Green means the surf or current is calm. Remain alert, anyway.
Blue or purple means that dangerous marine life has been spotted. This can be anything from sharks to jellyfish.
Ask the lifeguard on duty to explain the flags to you before you assume your responsibility.
Watch the weather
Sunny days are great beach days! But make sure to pack your sun protection. The American Skin Cancer Foundation says that sunburns can double our risk for melanoma, and there’s no easier place to get too many UV rays than the beach.
The beach is not a safe place to be when the weather produces lightning. Check the weather report before you head to the beach and have a plan of where to evacuate if the weather does unexpectedly take a turn for the worse.
Know how to identify someone who needs help
Again, we have movies and television to blame. They tell us that people who are drowning make lots of noise and wave their hands above them in the water. Drowning doesn’t follow that script. Water Watchers must instead be on the lookout for people whose heads are low in the water, or whose eyes remain closed for extended periods of time. Children whose legs are vertical in the water or who are trying to swim without progress may actually be in the process of drowning.
Water safety is always important!
We believe that constant adult supervision is key to preventing accidents around the water. Learn how we can help you teach your children to swim and arm them with important lessons on how to be safer around water.
The mission of Ocaquatics Swim School is to teach families to love swimming and to become safer, more comfortable, and more responsible in the water. If you’re interested in learning more about our year-round swim lessons, feel free to reach out to our team today by phone at 305-969-SWIM (7946), or by visiting our contact page.