Students participated in mock rescues of their peers, and Harris — himself a 25-year veteran lifeguard and former U.S. Marine — presented school principal Glenda Gerde with resourced materials from the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, including reading books about water safety — materials that teachers can now share with their students.
Every day, an average of 10 people die in the United States from unintentional drowning, with 20 percent of them children ages 14 or younger, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationally, drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury death for children and sixth for people of all ages. In addition, for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
“It’s a lifeguard’s job to see that everyone who visits a pool or a beach goes home safely at the end of the day,” said Harris. “It’s important for these kids to understand at an early age how to be safe around water.”
A new national survey shows that people believe they are better swimmers than they actually are.The survey, conducted for the Red Cross, found that while 80 percent of Americans said they could swim, only 56 percent of the self-described swimmers can perform all five of the basic skills that could save their own lives in the water.
These critical water safety skills, also known as “water competency,” are the ability to:
• step or jump into the water over your head;
• return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute;
• turn around in a full circle and find an exit;
• swim 25 yards to the exit; and
• exit from the water.
If in a pool, a swimmer would need to be able to exit without using a ladder.
The San Diego Lifeguard Services Water Safety Days Program is available online at www.sandiego.gov/lifeguards and includes tips on beach, boating and water safety.