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Wisconsin Parent

Water Safety: Learning the Survivor's Float

Jun 24, 2014 11:39AM ● By Brooke McGee
Emergencies can, and do, happen regularly. If we are fortunate, we are the one reading about it in the paper or seeing it on the television. We normally feel bad, or horrified, for who it happened to. Sometimes, we may even judge. Yes, I said that—we judge. We wonder how could that have happened? How on earth, could an individual have not taken more preventative measures? How could that… just… happen? Really? This is what is called an EMERGENCY.

Fortunately there are SOME things that are under our control. Preparation, for example. Even school districts take the time to prepare for “Emergency Alerts.” There are many kinds—tornado drills, fire drills, (what my family calls “bad guy "drills.) With warmer weather (finally) upon us, there’s another type of lesson that can literally be the difference between life and death for a member of your family—knowing how to survive in the water.

Now I’m not talking “Have you taken swimming lessons?” I’m talking “You are in the middle of the lake, screaming, no one can hear you, your clothes are dragging you down, you’re so exhausted you can’t scream anymore, fight for your life” swimming. None of us ever want our child to be “that statistic,” but as we all know that it happens. And in Wisconsin, in the summer, it devastates more families that we should ever have to recall.

Some (many, actually) children cannot swim. Some adults too. (I’m in that club so don’t feel bad!) Despite this, there are very basic instructions that can and SHOULD be taught to children of all ages. I say all because I highly doubt there are many of us who can count on one hand the number of families we know who NEVER go to the beach, or the pool, or kayaking.

Rescue FloatA few, very basic basic, lifesaving techniques is called the back float. It different from the Survivor’s Float (also called the Dead Man’s Float) because you are not face down in the water. For children or those who cannot swim, this is much less intimidating.

Like I mentioned, it’s called an emergency because you never see it coming. It hits you in the head like a 2X4 and you’re stunned, wondering… HUH?

Editor's Note: We nearly lost Brooke earlier this month when she found herself in the middle of Devil's Lake without any kind of flotation device. Not knowing how to swim, Brooke floated on her back for nearly thirty minutes until she was rescued by two men in a fishing boat. Even if your children are confident swimmers, we strongly recommend practicing the emergency float the next time you are at the beach or in a pool. Wearing a correctly sized life jacket is also always a good idea.