All About Water Watchers

By: Thomas C.

Here at All Knox Swim, we give out our Water Watcher badges to all our new families to help make Knoxville, TN “A Drowning-Free Knoxville”. Naturally, you might be wondering what a Water Watcher even is. Here is all you need to know about being a Water Watcher!

What is a Water Watcher?

To put it simply, a Water Watcher is someone that… watches the water.

I know, I know. It really is that simple.

But don’t go away! There is more to it.

To be more specific, a Water Watcher is the designated, capable adult in a group that is responsible for watching areas of water when children are around or in the water. The adult is not necessarily trained in Lifeguarding or CPR, but knowing how to do CPR would be an awesome plus!

Why do you need a Water Watcher?

According to the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, 88% of childhood drownings occur when there is at least one adult present. That is a tough statistic.

Why do drownings happen when there are adults present? How about a story.

A long time ago, I was hired to be the lifeguard at a pool party. There were about 10 kids in the pool. One mom told me to watch her young child very closely because she could not swim. She was about 3 years old. Her mom put her in a life jacket. I was the only person supervising the kids. All the adults were inside while I was the designated Water Watcher (though they did not call me that at the time).

After about 30 minutes, that mom comes flying out the door in heels and a beautiful outfit, jumps in the water, and pulls out her 3 year old child.

Why?

The child managed to get out of her life jacket, get into the pool behind their pool-side basketball goal outside of my field of vision, and go under water without me noticing. (Side note: There is a theory out there that flotation devices, like Puddle Jumpers, make kids think they can swim. Check out our article on our opinion of that.) Don’t worry, no one was hurt except for me. My pride was wounded badly.

I was specifically hired to prevent this from happening, and I failed. I tried to turn down payment, but they graciously paid my anyways.

What is the lesson here?

Drowning is silent and easy to miss. Children are at an increased risk of drowning. Without someone designated to watch the water, children could easily drown without anyone noticing until it is too late. Even when someone is present and watching, children can still drown! My mistake was not moving around and making sure I could see all areas of the pool.

So, here is what a Water Watcher is supposed to do.

What does a Water Watcher do and not do?

The Water Watcher is always watching areas of water, whether it be a pool, lake, river, or ocean. While an adult is the Water Watcher, they should do nothing else besides watch the water.

They should also know the address of the pool to share on a 911 call, have a phone accessible to make an emergency call, and walk around the water area while scanning the water.

They should NOT be socializing, using a cell phone, cooking, cleaning, leaving the pool area, or anything else besides watching the water. When they are ready to switch, they should call someone to relieve them from their duties. They should NEVER walk away from the pool area.

How do I use the Water Watcher badge?

The Water Watcher badge does not have special powers. The badge does not make an area of water drown-proof. All the badge does is make it easy to know who is supposed to be watching the water.

You simply wear it around your neck to show everyone that you are the current Water Watcher. When you are ready to switch, you pass the badge to the next person so that the water is always supervised.

Will you use a Water Watcher badge?

We hope that you will use a Water Watcher badge whenever you get together with friends and family around water. If you have one already, that is awesome!

If you do not have one, email us at drowningfree@allknoxswim.com and we will send you one FOR FREE! It is a small thing that we can do to help make Knoxville, TN “A Drowning-Free Knoxville” as well as the rest of our amazing country.

There are also other steps you can take to make swimming less risky for you and your family. Check out our article about pool safety to learn more.

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