Today’s PSA: life-saver or death-trap?

You know those pool tubes for kids?  The ones that keep them floating?  On TOP of the water?  Well, they don’t work when the kid is upside-down.  Just be aware.

Graham decided to illustrate this point on the Fourth of July.  We were having a family BBQ and pool party on Long Island.  The kids were wearing their tubes. I was eating my burger, watching them play a game called Climb on the Floating Lounge Chair and Fall Off.  Probably not surprisingly, Graham went overboard head first.  Because he had the tube around his waist, he couldn’t right himself.  He was stuck upside down under water.  Violet and the 8-year-old they were playing with  just stared at his flailing feet.  I threw my burger down and flung myself to the edge of the pool (a whole yard away).  Almost immediately I realized I couldn’t reach him.  So I dove gracefully into the water flopped into the water, my skirt flipping up in the process.  After about 20 years I was able to grab Graham and haul him out.  He coughed and started to cry.  We stood there, shivering, everyone at the party staring in shocked silence.

“That was my lesson!” Graham said when he was finally able to speak.  I’m not exactly sure what his lesson was… maybe don’t play Climb on the Floating Lounge Chair?  But I know what my lesson was: Don’t Look Away. Not even for a minute.  Not even with other swimmers nearby.   He went under so quickly and quietly.  Violet and her friend had no idea that he was in trouble.    What if, instead of watching them, I’d been chatting, or grabbing a drink or… ?  I don’t want to think about it.  I’ve not been as vigilant as I could’ve been in the past.  This was a wake-up call.

Swim lessons are scheduled for next week.  Life-savers for professional use only.

And thanks to Aunt Kathy for loaning me dry clothes.


3 responses to “Today’s PSA: life-saver or death-trap?”

  1. Soren Macbeth

    Extremely scary and I’m glad everybody is ok. The one fact that really stuck with me after reading Freakanomics was human beings tendency to perceive small risks as large and large risks as small. The example given was guns in a home vs pools. A statistically small percentage of children are harmed by guns in a home, yet the risk is perceived as very large and receive a lot of attention. Drowning in a pool by contrast is statistically MUCH more common, yet the risk is perceived as very small because pools are fairly common.

    I’m not sure if that is supposed to make you feel any better or not, but yeah, there it is.

  2. rebecca schwarz

    Sylvie has flipped like that. I think the problem is that our top halves are heavier than our legs, once flipped. We were right in the pool so flipped her back, but she was NOT happy! The thing I keep in mind about drowning is that it’s pretty rare that there is any sound involved. No flailing, waiving, shouting “help,” usually kids (and adults too) just slip under the surface. After finding that out I’m all about eyeballing the kiddos when they’re in the water. That said, I don’t want to come off sounding like I’m tsk tsking – I’m so not. You are an awesome parent and did just the right thing! You know, it’s always something. Lately Sylvia is always wrapping inappropriate (i.e. choking hazards) things around her neck and not understanding why I don’t think it’s funny… Mom has no sense of humor.

    Have fun at swim lessons. It is so cool watching kids figure out the whole water/swim thing!

  3. Mom

    OH MY GOD!!! I’m throwing the floaties I just bought in the garbage!! What a horrible experience!

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