Kids train as junior lifeguards as more drowning occur

With summer upon us, the number of drowning could skyrocket as many head to the beach or hang around the pool to cool off.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, around ten people die from drowning every day and two out of ten are children 14 and younger.

But there are some ways to keep the water fun and safe this summer. The National Lifeguard Association has some tips like knowing how to swim and never swimming alone. That seems easy enough but lakes and rivers can be unpredictable.

Over the last four weeks at Delong Middle School, a group of kids say they've learned what it takes to keep themselves and others safe on the water. They’re well on their way to becoming junior lifeguards through the city of Eau Claire Parks and Recreation Department’s junior lifeguard class.

“Well my dad was a lifeguard so he said that like it was fun to save people and when you actually do save one it feels really honoring,” said 7th grader Alayna Stone.

Lifeguard instructor and head lifeguard Daniel Silber said more people go to the beach in the summer.

“Rivers, lakes are more open to the public. They’re not frozen over and people go on vacations a lot and more interacting with water,” said Silber.

He said before you make a splash, know the rules of water safety.

“Knowing your ability, knowing what to do in a situation so that if anything does happen you don't stand there wondering what to do , you know what do, you know to call 911, you know to get help, you know what to do to help them in that situation,” he said.

7th grader Christian Emberts said so far, he’s learned a lot from the class.

“This class has been really helpful for me because we've gone through all scenarios, broken bones, passive, active drowning, all of it. We've learned how to use the backboard, how to carry someone if they have a broken neck or a spinal injury,” said Emberts.

And while Emberts isn’t old enough to be certified lifeguards, when asked about what they would do in a drowning situation they said they’d know exactly what to do.

“If it was a lake, we probably wouldn't have the equipment so first I’d make sure the victim is indeed drowning and then check if there are any injuries so I know where not to put pressure on and try to bring them onto the shore as careful as possible. It's a big job, scary,” said Emberts.

10th grader Brooke Erickson said she’d like to work at Fairfax Pool once she becomes certified.

“I think that would be really bad if someone drowned and there was somebody right there who could save them but didn't,” said Erickson. She said she now has the skills to save someone who is struggling in the water.

As for parents, it’s never too late to learn. USA Swimming Foundation said if you don't know how, there's only a 13 percent chance that your child will know how to swim.

There is another junior lifeguard class and a lifeguard certification class coming up with Eau Claire Parks and Recreation, but we’re told both classes are filled up.


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