Do you know the difference between a lifejacket and and personal flotation device (PFD)?
That was one of many lessons Jody Bencze, the Gallagher Centre’s aquatics programmer, tried to teach from July 21 to 28 for National Drowning Prevention Week.
Different days of the week featured different lessons at the Gallagher Centre Water Park. On July 25, people who brought lifejackets received half off admission.
Both PFDs and lifejackets help people float. The difference between the two is that a lifejacket flips a person over if he is knocked out while in the water so that he can breathe rather than drown, while a PFD only keeps a person afloat, explain Bencze.
Adults going to the pool with children received a discount on July 28 for ‘Within Arms Reach’ day.
“Parents need to be within arms reach of their children at all times, especially when they’re six years or younger, whether they’re good swimmers or not,” said Bencze. This can prevent children from running on the deck or diving into the shallow end, which is the most common mistake Bencze sees at the pool.
It is also important to use the buddy system when swimming and never swim alone.
Bencze also cleared up a common old wives tale, the oft-heard “don’t swim for half an hour after eating.” There is a reason for this belief. Swimming too soon after eating can cause stomach cramps, which can send a swimmer into a panic.
Her advice for dealing with someone struggling in water is to “act calm and be there for them. If they’re within arms reach or throw a life jacket if you have a distressed swimmer.”
Recent controversy over government changes to lifeguard regulations in the province will not affect the Gallagher Centre. While Red Cross training will now be allowed in some areas, Yorkton’s water park will remain affiliated the Lifesaving Society standards for their training.
In fact, as of next year the water park’s standards will go up, said Bencze.
“It used to be just retrieving a 20 pound brick from the bottom of the pool. And now you have to swim from the shallow end to deepest end of the pool, dive down, pick up the 20 pound brick all within 40 seconds,” she said.
Other changes include swimming the wave pool in one breath and a timed swim.