RowSafeUSA: Cold Water Safety

RowSafeUSA: Cold Water Safety

This blog on cold water safety courtesy of Marc Messing who runs RowSafeUSA.org Northwestern University Rower’s Death A Northwestern University rower has drowned after falling into the waters of the Chicago River North Channel without a lifejacket. Reports say that the water was cold and swift-moving. The rower, Mohammed Ramzan of Auburn, Washington, was a nineteen year old freshman rowing with Northwestern University’s (club) crew team when he fell into the water. He apparently never surfaced in the murky, cold, moving water. A coach and one other person dove into the water in an attempt to rescue him, but were unsuccessful. Both rescuers were later hospitalized along with a firefighter who was hospitalized for routine decontamination after exposure to the river water. Rowing deaths are rare on warm water and under safe conditions, but more common in the life-threatening temperatures of cold water. Following Mohammed Ramzan’s death it is appropriate to review the particular dangers of cold water as discussed in USRowing’s 2007 safety video: cold water is, the video explains, “extremely dangerous when below 50 degrees” “the initial cold shock from falling into cold water provokes an immediate gasp reflex of up to two to three quarts of air, or water if your head is submerged” breathing and heart rates accelerate swimming failure can set in after only three minutes “cold water can quickly numb the extremities to the point of uselessness” “within minutes, severe pain clouds rational thought” It is also appropriate to review the guidance offered in January, 2015, apparently directed primarily to scullers: “uncontrolled shivering, disorientation and impaired judgment start to occur before exhaustion or unconsciousness.” someone in a launch “can throw...
Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium

Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium

“Scientists have discovered that the physical attributes of the Great Lakes combined with strong and rapidly changing wind, results in extreme weather conditions that can be deadly. Many people have died as a result of short wave periods that result in rapidly crashing waves and dangerous currents.“ Since 2010, we’ve lost 445 human lives to drowning in the Great Lakes.  There have been 6 lives lost thus far in 2016. “Virtually all of them were preventable,” says Jamie Racklyeft, executive director of the GLWSC and rip current survivor.  “Often times when we hear of someone drowning in the Great Lakes, we wonder what else could be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Knowing how to swim is important, but there’s much more to water safety.” The Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium is bringing together individuals, task forces, communities, park rangers, and organizations.  Their mission is to connect all groups and individuals interested in water safety to maximize collective knowledge, resources, and actions to end drowning in the Great Lakes. The GLWSC has two upcoming Conferences: Cleveland, Ohio Tuesday, April 19 Lake Erie Nature & Science Center 28728 Wolf Road Grand Haven, Michigan Friday, April 22 Grand Haven Community Center 421 Columbus Avenue “We’re bringing together a roster of experts – first responders, wave and current research scientists, meteorologists, lifeguards, and other water safety advocates,” Racklyeft added. “If you want to keep people safer in the water this year, these experts are gathering to let you know how.” The Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium is a new “community of BEST practice” getting everyone – from national, regional, and local organizations to...
Safe Greece — International Water Safety Day

Safe Greece — International Water Safety Day

International Water Safety Day: “Safe Greece” for 500,000 primary school Greeks   On May 15 2015, 500,000 of primary school children will have the opportunity to get water safety awareness through, “Safe Greece“, that will involve awareness about the water safety measures and lifesaving sport, as part of Greece’s contribution to the candidate International Water Safety Day, with the support of the Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the Hellenic Federation of Underwater Activity, the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, the International Awards Giuseppe Sciacca, and the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Drowning is a serious and underestimated public health problem, as a person might lose his life from it every 30 seconds on Earth due to various causes. In April 28, the project was welcomed enthusiastically by the 100 primary school educators who attended the water safety daily meeting  that was organized by the Peristeri Health Centre and the Health Education Office of the Directory of Primary Education for Health Education Athens- Region C. The program was not limited on May 15, but it continues to allow as many schools and children have the opportunity of gaining the benefit. Several people commented about “Safe Greece“. The scientific creator of the project, Dr. Stathis Avramidis (Advisor for Health Education and Accident Prevention, General Secretariat of Public Health at the Ministry of Health, Officer at the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and Director of Lifesaving Sport at the Hellenic Federation of Underwater Activity), commented: “In 1992, two remarkable individuals, Greg Bonann and Tai Collins, the creators...
Virginia Beach Swim Lessons Making an Impact

Virginia Beach Swim Lessons Making an Impact

It’s taken quite some time — 5 years in fact — to get swim lessons in the Virginia Beach public school systems. friend which might We have Rosemary Wilson, and some local businesses, to thank for that. Wilson is the City Councilmember that first suggested swim lessons be added into the curriculum but the idea was shot down by the VB School Board. Now, with $7500 in donations from McKenzie Construction and the Virginia Beach Hotel Association, 350 elementary school children in Title I schools will receive free swim lessons. That’s a mere $2.14 per child, per lesson to learn an invaluable life skill, in an area completely inundated by waterways. Awareness and education are the first steps in preventing drownings. Has there been a discussion to include water safety education in a classroom setting into the curriculum? Arlington Public Schools has a component of their physical education curriculum dedicated to teaching water safety awareness COMBINED with swim lessons. Don’t get us wrong — we are all for swim lessons. According to USA Swimming, “participation in formal swimming lessons could reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88%.” But, if we are only teaching 350-500 children every year, the vast majority of school children aren’t receiving anything. So, why not add water safety education into the physical education curriculum COMBINED with the swim lessons being provided by such outstanding local businesses and...
UNICEF, Commonwealth Games Team Up

UNICEF, Commonwealth Games Team Up

The Glasgow Commonwealth Games are over but it’s impact will be felt for years to come. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) teamed up with the Commonwealth Games in an effort to save millions of children’s lives.  They raised funds through a campaign they call, “Put Children First“. Lord Ashdown, the President of UNICEF-UK, penned a brilliant piece on the campaign via a Huffington Post blog.  He provides examples of where the donated proceeds are going — like that of SwimSafe, an initiative to prevent drowning in Bangladesh. “I also visited a project where children are taught to swim. Why is that important? Because with climate-change-driven monsoon flooding becoming an increasing problem in low lying countries like Bangladesh, knowing how to stay afloat and get to dry land is a matter of life and death. It’s staggering that an estimated 18,000 children die every year from drowning in this flood prone nation. Unicef’s work has already taught 300,000 children to swim, giving them a fighting chance of survival in the years to come.” UNICEF travels to Bangladesh to #PutChildrenFirst...
“Water safety worth the investment in local pools”

“Water safety worth the investment in local pools”

I was lucky enough to come across an article written in the Peninsula Clarion — The Newspaper of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. Penned by Erika E. Bennett of Soldotna Middle School, the article is an intelligently written opinion piece entitled, “Water safety worth the investment in local pools“ Ms. Bennett asks, "...how can the school board consider closing Skyview Pool, thus limiting access to a valuable resource that is an asset to the children of this community?" She goes on to say that, "Preventing drownings takes a community effort as well as access to a pool. For students who have not learned elsewhere, the school district is left mandating swimming in high school to ensure their children will be safe around water. With this said, we, as a community, must be proactive as early as possible to avoid accidents, which brings me to my final point. Soldotna Middle School is relocating to Skyview, so why don’t we take advantage of such a wonderful opportunity to teach swimming two years earlier, thus fully utilizing a valuable resource and ensuring more safety for our young people around our waterways?" Ms. Bennett, as you might have guessed, knows how to swim.  She’s a fantastic example of “Swimmers Helping Non-Swimmers” — one of our slogans here at International Water Safety Day. But, what is most astonishing, is that Ms. Bennett is in the 7th grade — So, we’d like to say THANKS for being such an outstanding water safety...