Summer is in full swing in Central Ohio and while many people make their way to the local pool, safety is sometimes the last thing on their minds.
Karen Ammon is the Assistant Aquatics Director at the YMCA in Hilliard, who has had to save a several lives during her career. “One of the individuals was a teenage boy who slipped into the deep end and couldn’t swim,” Ammon recalls.
Over the years, she’s learned there’s a lot that goes in to preventing drowning. Everything from top notch lifeguard training, to watchful parents.
Jennifer Peck is a mother of four who knows it’s important to watch her kids and teach them how to be safe in and around the pool. “My oldest is eight; she knows where she's allowed. My other one that's six has to be somewhere she can touch. She knows she needs to be close to me if something happens.”
Even with a parent close by, the risk of drowning is always there.
Lifeguards at the Hilliard YMCA need to quickly to recognize someone is drowning, which does not always look like something you see in the movies.
A distressed swimmer will wave their hands and yell for help. But there is also what is known as silent drowning. Within 20-60 seconds from active drowning, a swimmer can go to passive - that's when the victim appears to be a dead body floating.
Lifeguards use what they call a 10-10 scanning rule. They need to recognize a drowning victim in 10 seconds and get to them in 10 seconds. Ammon says it’s important, especially if the person drowning is going to need advanced care.
However, that is not how all pools operate.
“I have four children and we go to Florida every summer and go to the water parks,” Ammon says. “I've been amazed at the rules and the number of rescues that happen.”
Situations like this can be prevented with more eyes, but it requires parents’ full attention.
For Jennifer Peck, she understands even with lifeguards on duty, it’s not a risk worth taking. “I feel like they're kind of a backup. I feel like I should be the one always keeping an eye on them because they're mine. I want to make sure they're safe.”
Just two inches of water is enough for a person to drown, and it only takes some extra attention to prevent it.