Posted: Jul 5, 2012 6:00 PM
Updated: Jul 5, 2012 6:38 PM
TUCSON - It is not uncommon to have more kids die in water related accidents than in car crashes.
In Pima County, this year, we've already lost a child in a bathtub drowning while five other kids have almost drowned.
Adult supervision is the most critical element in swim safety. So what exactly is the role of a Water Watcher?
Annie Diaz knows it's critical to keep a constant eye on her little swimmers.
"Because they are rambunctious and they like to think they can swim on their own and really they can't," she says. "No. I never let the kids come to the pool by themselves."
Annie also talks to her kids before swim time and tells them how to stay safe at the pool.
"To stay in the area where they feel comfortable. Never go to the deep side if you don't know how to swim and to make sure that there is always a parent with you."
What you can learn from professional water watchers is priceless. At our city pools, lifeguards practice prevention.
They are trained for rescues but their goal is to avoid the disaster by watching for signs.
Fatigue can be deadly.
"And they'll be swimming, having fun," says Bobby Way, a Lifeguard with 4 years of experience. "You do notice them start to breathe heavy. They breathe heavier and heavier. They're slower to get out of the pool. They're slower in the water."
Time for a rest break when they see this behavior and something you should spot at home too.
Also a lifeguard never leaves his post not even for a few seconds. Nearly every time we report a water accident, the caretaker reports turning their back for just a second.
It is critical that there are no distractions. Keep a phone in hand in case of an emergency but don't take your attention off the kids.
"It becomes your job to kind of take the place of that lifeguard because lifeguards are not present at your home," explains Bobby. "You need to take that job, own it and protect your child and prevent them from having a possible drowning experience."
It's a job Annie owns because she knows drownings are the silent killer.
"Just turn around for a split second, it could happen really fast."
It's a good idea if you can to reassign the Water Watcher every 20 minutes. A fresh set of eyes is always a good thing.
We have designated Water Watcher whistles available at our studios at 209 W. Elm Street.
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