July 4, 2018 8:01 am

Swimming lessons, CPR training, buddy system help prevent drownings: Lifesaving Society

Whether swimming or boating the Lifesaving Society says to always have someone with you.

Joelle Wall

Should swimming lessons be part of the school curriculum?

That’s the question being raised after two apparent drownings in the London area over the weekend.

According to the Lifesaving Society, teaching children how to swim is among the best ways to prevent drownings.

READ MORE: Kitchener man and West Perth teenage girl victims of separate long weekend drownings

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On Monday, a 13-year-old girl was pulled from the water at a campground in Perth County. She was resuscitated and rushed to hospital in life-threatening condition.

OPP said the teenager, identified as Ebony Kay of West Perth, succumbed to her injuries Tuesday.

“The first thing you should do [if you see someone unresponsive or in distress] is get help. Call 911 [or have someone else do it] and get an emergency response team there to help you deal with that person who’s in trouble,” said Barbara Byers, public education director at the Lifesaving Society.

Next, if the person is struggling in the water, Byers says to grab a flotation device, like a pool noodle, ring buoy, or even a cooler lid that you can extend to the person who is struggling.

“The person who’s struggling and panicking for dear life can develop this sort of superhuman strength,” she said.

“You don’t want to go right out and get really close to them because they could throw their arms around you and use you as a means to get out of the water.”

If you can’t swim or are not a strong swimmer do not try to help because you could put yourself in a life-threatening situation, added Byers.

Once the person is out of the water, if they’re not breathing Byers says it’s crucial to start CPR.

“Doing nothing and watching and waiting for emergency response to come isn’t going to be any more successful at keeping that person alive.”

“If you know some of the rudimentary measures of CPR, you should give it a try. You’re giving that person a chance to get the response that will hopefully bring them back,” she said.

READ MORE: OPP investigating drowning of 43-year-old man in Arva

In the second weekend incident, a 57-year-old man was pronounced dead in hospital after being found unresponsive at a campground north of Woodstock Monday.

He’s been identified as Andre Bourgeois of Kitchener. It’s unclear if he died due to drowning or some other medical issue.

“Swimming alone is a key risk factor, especially with older adults,” said Byers.

“[Our studies show] 69 per cent of people who drown over the age of 50 were alone.”

Whether you’re swimming or boating, Byers says it’s important to have a buddy so that if you get into a difficult situation they can help you right away.

“Every second counts [when someone is struggling to breathe].”

One of the biggest concerns she has when the weather gets hot is for toddlers.

“We always say ‘keep your children in arms reach. Keep your eyes on them. Stay close to them,’ but we all have this problem where we get distracted by other people and things and now we’re even more distracted by our phones,” said Byers.

“Put your phone down. Put your phone away. Drowning is silent and it can happen very, very quickly.”

You may think you have a good view of your child, but Byers says you won’t see the transition from a child happily swimming to getting into difficulty.

“Put that phone away. You can’t watch them and be on your smartphone at the same time,” she said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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