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A Day Without Water

As you’ve probably heard, a storm from Tahiti is causing big surf and dangerous conditions off our coast. My daughter’s Junior Lifeguard instructors didn’t let their classes go in the water at all on Friday. Instead, they practiced first aid and did other ‘dry land’ activities.

At first I thought this would be a wasted day for the kids, with no swimming past the kelp beds, boogie boarding, mock rescues or even playing in the surf. As it turns out, though, this may have been the most valuable day of the whole program.

lifeguard1Student lifeguards, ages 8-17, watched swimmers and surfers get caught in rip currents, saw the lifeguards, including their instructors, conduct several rescues, and watched beachgoers continue to swim in the ocean despite the prominently posted red flags.

My daughter can now spot a rip current and knows what to do if she or someone else gets caught in one. She can tell the difference between a 5’ wave and a 15’ wave. She knows that the current can be so strong that you can’t keep your footing even where the water doesn’t come up to your hips. When we got home and looked at the news, we saw that a competition surfer had to be rescued by lifeguards and that a body surfer died after the waves threw him against rocks. This is why I’m driving to the beach every day instead of taking her to the Junior Lifeguard program at the pool by my house.

In spite of the terrible accident in Huntington Beach, these Junior Lifeguard programs are life savers. Every kid who lives near the beach should have this training.

And for me, next time I take the kids to the beach I can tell them to stick together and then fall asleep on my towel if I want to. As long as we’re near a lifeguard tower with a green flag.