Swimming Accidents: “Children drown in water at stone speed.”

KThe German Bathing Association (DGfdB) warns Indians with seahorse badges. What should little ones master and what should parents pay attention to when bathing? We spoke about this with Michael Weilandt of DGfdBE and Michael Dietel, a spokesperson for Baederland Hamburg.

Globalism: How many people drowned in Germany last year?

Michael Weilandt: There were 299 people in total. This is the lowest number of casualties since the DLRG recorded it in 2000. The majority of victims, 57 percent, are in the over 50 age group. Unfortunately, there were also 17 children of preschool age and primary school age, although this was still six fewer than in 2020. On the other hand, there was an increase in the number of victims among older children and young adults (11 to 20 years old) – from 26 in 2020 to 30 deaths annually in 2021

Globalism: I suppose all of these incidents occurred in unguarded bathing lakes…

Faylandt: Not all of them, but 85% of them. Although German swimming pools are among the safest in the world, seven people died in 2021 in an accident despite rescuers.

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Globalism: Why do toddlers who are in danger in the water never cry for help?

Michael Dietel: Because they can’t. As long as the children’s mouths are still above the water, they are breathing frantically, and they literally have no air to scream for help. Toddlers don’t wave either, but they automatically extend their arms to both sides, hoping they won’t slip or stick to something.

If their heads are put under water, they panic, but not efficiently because they do not yet know the necessary movements. In addition, young children lack the necessary buoyancy capacity due to the small size of their lungs, they sink like a stone. That’s why we can’t say it much to parents: Drowning often happens silently and relatively motionless.

Michael Weilandt (left) of the German Bathing Association and Michael Dettel of Baederland Hamburg give advice on the bathing season.

Source: DGfdB; Nina Stiller

Globalism: Is the buoyancy of swimming equipment sufficient to prevent children from drowning?

Detel: First of all: no swimming aid is 100% safe, and non-swimmers should always be supervised. There is even a certain danger with arm bands, as they not only make arm movements more difficult, but if a child falls into the water with fresh cream applied, the bands can slide off at lightning speed.

Swimming rings are also not without risks. With them, children can lean forward and will no longer be able to stand on their own. If parents want to teach their kids to swim on their own, pool noodles make sense, pool boards are good for a leg kick exercise.

Life jackets are best for playing in the water and in the water. Ideally, those that, due to their cut and shape, turn static children on their backs and reliably keep their heads above the water.

Globalism: Throw them in the lake and let them row – that’s supposed to be how many generations their grandparents have learned to swim. Is this just a fairy tale?

Faylandt: Yes, this is more than a fairy tale. In the time of our ancestors, there was only one method of swimming, and it was based on the movements of the soldier, that is, you made rough and correctly performed swimming movements, first training on land, on the so-called floating ram, and then went with the line around your stomach in the water. This was copied from the army, because for centuries only soldiers could swim to some extent.

That only changed with the advent of nudity in the 1920s. Kurt Wisner wrote his Natural Swimming Lessons for these clients circa 1925. A New Way of Swimming.” He promoted a modern approach to getting used to the water, but his ideas were only reported in West Germany in the 1980s. How was that handled in the GDR? I can say for sure.

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Globalism: What is the legal status, are lifeguards responsible for the safety of children?

Detel: Parents are primarily responsible for the safety of their children, and they have a duty of supervision. The indoor or outdoor pool operator is responsible for the safe operation of the pool. Of course, this also includes water supervision with the appropriate qualifications to respond well and properly in emergency situations.

However, lifeguards cannot set their eyes everywhere and supervise individual children. Unfortunately, some parents still think so. However, the truth is that every bather is responsible for their children and themselves.

So parents should always keep an eye on their children who are not swimming, preferably only an arm’s length away from them. Also, a parent should never accompany more than two unsafe children in the water.

Globalism: When do you think children are safe swimmers?

Detel: Once the requirements for the bronze badge have been demonstrated. This includes, among other things, 15 minutes of continuous swimming, covering a distance of at least 200 metres. Children should also be able to switch from a prone position to a posterior position and continue swimming without holding on, be able to retrieve a two-meter object from the water and complete a jump from a starting block or one meter board.

Globalism: A seahorse badge?

Detel: This simply means that the wearer can, among other things, cover a certain distance in a swimming style that is not yet clean and have learned the first methods of self-rescue. It is a stimulating intermediate step for children. But kids are only truly safe when they complete the bronze badge.

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Globalism: Parents’ guides often read that children can drown themselves in puddles, so is that terrifying?

Detel: No, for you to sink enough depth of water covering your mouth and nose. This could be a few centimeters, for example when a small child falls in grief, hits his head and feels dizzy or scared and breathes in a hurry. Water inhalation and “dry drowning” can then occur. Especially for children under five, even small and shallow bodies of water are dangerous – for example a garden pond or paddling pond.

Globalism: Do private pool owners have to secure their own pool even if the garden is fenced?

Faylandt: Yes, according to current legislation, private pools or aquariums must always be secured, even if the private garden is fenced. To put it bluntly: the garden pond should be fenced or covered with a fixed net. Paddle pools should be emptied after use and rain barrels should be closed with lockable lids. There were children who fell headfirst.

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Globalism: Many parents are concerned that suction systems in swimming pools can suck their children underwater, so what can you tell them?

Faylandt: If the pool is built according to the standards, then it is also safe. It is the responsibility of the pool operator to ensure this safety.

Detel: As for the swimming pools in Hamburg, I can say that for safety reasons, they are built in such a way that fresh water is pumped or pressurized into the pool from below and then drains through the gutter at the top. This all works without extraction systems.

Globalism: Is there some type of pool certification that parents can use as evidence?

Faylandt: No, there is no certification for swimming pools in general, including sewer pipes. However, I know of some hotel chains whose pool drains have been vetted by experts.

What to keep in mind for the Easter holidays

The first major travel wave of 2022 is imminent in April, when the Easter holidays in the first federal states begin at the start of the month. There are still many offers for those who decide on the spur of the moment. Corona restrictions have fallen in many countries – but not everywhere.

Source: WORLD / Thomas Laeber

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