(Nation World News) – On Good Friday 2017, Wyatt Werneth got a call from his wife, who had gone grocery shopping with their daughter: The car broke down. Please rescue us
While passing through Patrick Space Force Base near Cape Canaveral, Florida, Werneth jumped into his vehicle to help. Werneth said that from the A1A highway you can see the sea.
What he saw next was a twist of fate that led to a more immediate rescue.
“I could see someone waving in traffic as I passed by… I stopped to see what was happening; I had an immediate instinct that something was going on in the water,” Werneth recalled to Nation World News Travel.
“When I went to the berm, I didn’t know what I was doing. There were many people in the water.”
And they were in trouble. A very serious one. A backflow type problem.
This scene would make anyone shudder, but at least Werneth was ready. He is an experienced lifeguard instructor and had water rescue equipment.
But with at least five men fighting in a violent rip current across the Atlantic, how will he save them all?
the figures are grim
The drowning figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are shocking.
There are an estimated 3,960 unintentional drowning deaths (including boating incidents) each year in the United States. That is, an average of 11 drowning deaths per day.
From 2015 to 2019, the states with the highest number of drownings per 100,000 people were:
The global figures are even more shocking. According to the United Nations World Health Organization, there are an estimated 236,000 annual drowning deaths worldwide. This gives an average of 647 people per day.
And then there are many more non-fatal drownings. The CDC says that people who survive a drowning experience a variety of outcomes: “from no injuries to very serious injuries or permanent disability.”
Experts say the tragedy is that many of these deaths and injuries are preventable. What can you do to enjoy the water, whether it’s the sea, river, lake or pool, safely and without falling into the ranks of drowning deaths? A lot comes out.
Who is most at risk?
It is important to know who is most likely to drown. At-risk groups require the most attention. Some of them are in the United States:
- Younger people: The CDC says that children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates, mostly in swimming pools.
- Men: are responsible for about 80% of fatal drownings. High-risk behavior and alcohol consumption have been cited as reasons. Worldwide, the WHO reports that men have twice the rate of drowning deaths than women.
- Minority Groups: The fatal drowning rate for American Indians or Alaska Natives aged 29 and younger is twice that of whites. For blacks, the rate is 1.5 times higher than for whites.
measures to prevent drowning
The CDC stresses the importance of learning basic water safety skills and says that formal lessons can reduce the risk of drowning.
However, “children who have taken swimming lessons still require close and constant supervision when in or near water,” the agency writes. Don’t be distracted by the TV, books or phone when you see children in the water.
If you are drinking alcoholic beverages, stay away from the water and do not sail. Impaired judgment and slow response can lead to tragedy.
Boats and vulnerable swimmers, especially in open water, should wear life jackets.
And keep an eye on the weather. If there is a storm or heavy rain, go outside.
get to know the aquatic environment
Understand the water you are about to enter. Different water bodies present different types of hazards.
ocean return currents
These currents move away from the coast. They often form near sandbar breaks and piers and rock groynes.
The American Lifesaving Association says to look for signs of a rip current before entering. It may be “a narrow gap of deep, apparently calm water between a breaking wave and areas of rough water,” a difference in water color, or “a line of foam, algae, or debris moving toward the sea”. can.
Here’s what to do if you get caught in rip current:
- Be calm Rip currents don’t pull you underwater, but they pull you away from shore.
- Don’t swim against the current. The USLA says try to escape by “swimming out of the stream in one direction following the shoreline.” You may be able to escape by swimming or by stepping on the water and riding the current.
- If you’re in trouble, shout and wave a helping hand.
If you are not trained, don’t try to save people yourself. Find a lifeguard, call 911, or throw a flotation device in their direction. Instruct the person to swim parallel to the shore to escape.
Other Ocean Tips
The National Weather Service warns swimmers to beware of “shore breaking” waves. They crash directly into the sand and can knock and disorient swimmers. “When in doubt, don’t go out,” said Wyatt Werneth, who is also a public service spokesman for the American Lifesaving Association.
Swim Guides and Swim Ireland advise people to swim an hour before or an hour after low tide or high tide when the water is generally calm. (But conditions may vary from beach to beach.)
Tubing and other activities are popular on the rivers. But strong currents and subsurface obstacles or debris can be dangerous.
Werneth asks you to check the river before you go inside.
lakes and ponds
The calm waters of lakes and ponds can give mosquitoes and beach-goers a false sense of security. Werneth said a sudden drop-off and underwater debris could startle or entangle people, leading to panic and drowning. He asked to go inside with a swim buddy.
Dive only in designated areas. The USLA says to enter feet of unwashed water first to avoid hitting your head. Swimmers must not enter areas where speeding boats and personal vessels pass.
The National Coalition for Drowning Prevention offers this advice for pool owners: “Self-closing gates, four-way fences with door and window alarms, and safety covers can help ensure that children do not inadvertently Don’t get in the water.” observation “.
And even if your kids can swim, adults should be careful. Keep flotation devices close at hand.
Nationwide lifeguard shortage
Bernard Fischer, the director of health and safety for the American Lifesaving Association, warned of a serious shortage of lifeguards this summer.
Werneth said the group’s message has always been “swimming in front of a lifeguard”. But he said the reality of the shortage is opening a new one: “Learn to swim, America.”
“We want people to protect themselves. Hire someone in your family to watch the water. Have that person learn first aid.”
And if someone can’t swim and still wants to walk through the water, “Put a life jacket over them. It’ll make a difference.”
In 2017, on that Florida beach, Werneth’s task was tough. But he had a sober mind, decades of experience, and luckily, a seasoned second colleague he later learned was from the Air Force.
“He was evacuating people even before I arrived… This Air Force guy was coming back with one. I saw he had one who was fainting and I immediately jumped into the water, swam Gaya, caught the unconscious person and I took it out.”
Werneth estimates they were about 150 feet away and recalls that he pulled five teenage boys out of the water. They weren’t even in bathing suits, Verneth said, which made them think it was a sudden decision to go to sea.
Would the group have died without the defenses that had exhausted them?
“I assure you that they must have all died … These people were going to help each other and it caused a chain reaction. Don’t go into the water to help someone without a flotation device.”
“It was the right time I showed up and I was there to help those people.” All because the family car was broken into. But not everyone can rely on luck.
Lastly, you need to have “belief in water” derived from experience and respect for water.
“Fear is that which creates panic that breeds drowning.”