As people head to the water when the weather gets warm, they’re likely not thinking about all the safety measures they may need to take.
The Alpena Plaza Pool is trying to change that, as there are an alarming number of statistics that illustrate the risks around the water, whether at the pool or in any of the lakes in our counties.
“There are around 4,000–plus deaths a year, that averages 11 per day, 8,000 non–fatal drownings, which is about 22 a day,” said Kim Bolanowski, Pool Director at the Alpena Plaza Pool.
With those statistics, the highest death rate for children ages 1 through 4 is drowning, and it’s the second highest death rate for children ages 1 through 14. The plaza pool is starting swimming lessons for infants and toddlers for that reason, increasing them from 4 to 6 hours.
“We are the only pool in the four counties and the only public pool that teaches swim lessons,” said Bolanowski. “So swim lessons are very important.”
When assessing the risk of water, the Plaza Pool team wants people to remember the five layers of protection: supervision, fences and barriers, alarms, life jackets, and responding to aquatic emergencies.
“They just have to make sure that they’re learning what the barriers are, understanding the water, and making sure that somebody is always being supervised when it’s children, you should always swim with a pair, if there is a lifeguard there, you should always swim with a lifeguard,” said Bolanowski.
The Pool also wants people to know that just because they know how to swim doesn’t mean they shouldn’t consider the risks.
“Most of the people that drown in the Great Lakes think that they’re good swimmers, and they just don’t understand rip currents,” said Bolanowski. “You should allow the rip current to take you out, and then you swim parallel with the rip current versus trying to come back in.”
The Plaza Pool also began a program called ‘Ready, Set, Swim’ for 2nd graders all throughout the northeast Michigan area, and have put 376 children through that program.