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  • Heather Murray

Parents Preventing Childhood Drowning Presents: Sunday Survival Stories: Lifeguards and Flags

Updated: Jun 21, 2020

Every Sunday, we will share a story of a non-fatal drowning, discuss where things went wrong, and give some pointers on how to prevent it from happening to the people you love. Thankfully, these stories have happy endings for those involved, but sadly, we lose too many people to drowning every year. We hope examining these real-life stories help put the dangers of water into perspective and help you introduce various principles of water safety to your family!

Today’s story features a dad and son who decided to swim on a life guarded beach, after hours. Both required rescue from dangerous water but are thankfully okay.

It is very important to know if the area in which you are swimming has lifeguards on duty and are using a flag system. Swimming in an area actively supervised by lifeguards can speed up the time in which a rescue occurs and when CPR starts on a victim, which can make a crucial difference in life, death, and lifelong health issues. Thankfully for this father and son, local rescue teams were able to get to the beach very quickly to provide help, but this is not always the case, especially in remote swim areas.

Flag systems should always be observed. Flag systems are put in place to help swimmers. While they can vary in different areas, flag systems typically include a green flag-safe for swimming, yellow flag- caution with swimming, red flag- hazard, swimming not recommended, and double red flag- high hazardous conditions, no swimming. Regardless of what type of flag system the area is using, it should be clearly visible and a chart available to easily see what different flag colors mean. You may even be able to find this information online before visiting a swim area to see how their flag system is represented.

Swimmers should always understand their own ability to swim in various water conditions, and whether there is a flag system in pace or not, should always conduct their own observation of the environment before going in for a swim. Look for weather conditions, red flags, and any issues that may not be visible (like a sudden drop off into deeper water) and decide if you and your loved ones are capable of swimming safely. Always choose a life-guarded area over a non-life-guarded area to increase chances of recovery and survival in the case of an emergency.

Always swim in a life-guarded area and look for flags indicating swim conditions. Have fun, be safe, and pick the best location and time to swim!

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