As temperatures continue to blaze in Lethbridge this summer, the urge to cool off with a quick dip in the water is tempting for many, but officials warn the water isn’t always safe, especially for young and inexperienced swimmers.
“Everybody needs to supervise their children or non-swimmers all the time,” said Sunni Belle, assistant general manager with Recreation Excellence at the City of Lethbridge.
Belle, who has more than 25 years of experience as a lifeguard, said the water can be a dangerous place with many hidden hazards.
One place in particular that she’s warning parents to keep an eye on is backyard pools.
“If you have a toddler pool in your backyard, dump it out when you’re done with it,” Belle said. “Make sure — if it’s a bigger pool — that you have a gate that goes all the way around the pool and that latches and locks when you’re not using it.”
Watch below: (From June 2018) Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services test boat-handling skills for water rescue team.
Belle said it only takes a second for a situation to become dangerous, adding something as simple as checking your phone, reading a book or browsing the web is enough time for something to happen in the water.
“Drowning can be silent. They can slip below the surface without making any noise,” she said. “It’s important to get yourself educated on what drowning looks like.
“Any amount of water is dangerous and should be monitored at all times.”
However, it isn’t only still bodies of water that Belle is asking residents to be cautious around. She said lakes and rivers can be dangerous too.
Belle and other safety officials in the city urge all residents to take precautions in the water, especially wearing life-jackets when moving on water.
That’s a tip that one local man was happy to follow on Thursday, as he made his way to the Oldman River with his kayak.
“I figured it’s time to wear a life-jacket,” Brad Amundrud said. “There’s been a few drownings here before, and I don’t want to be the next one.”
In the event of struggles on the river, Belle added that those attempting to help also risk putting their lives in danger.
“An example would be with the floatation device blowing to the centre of the lake,” she said. “A dad will swim out there to grab it and sometimes they don’t make it back. That’s a really hard thing to think about and so it’s important to realize your strengths and and weaknesses.
More information on drowning prevention can be found here.