Who would have thought a lesson in boating and water safety could be so much fun? Children attending the public swim at Kentville Memorial Pool July 23 got an unexpected invitation to take part in a personal floatation device fashion show. The event was held as part of national Drowning Prevention Week, which runs from July 20 to 26. Dozens of children were fitted for lifejackets and took a freestyle fashion walk down a makeshift runway drawn in chalk on the pool deck. Each finished their walk with a plunge into the water.
“It was exciting and awesome,” 11-year-old Kacey Pudsey of Kentville said.
“We were lucky that we came,” eight-year-old Kate Cameron of Kentville chimed in. She liked “that you get to dance down the aisle and everyone claps and yells.”
“Really, it’s fun,” eight-year-old Rachel Veley of Kentville added.
The three girls said they learned about the importance of wearing a lifejacket when around the water and said more young people should be receiving the message. Pudsey pointed out that wearing one could save your life.
“(You could) drown if you don’t have one on,” added Veley.
Cameron said you should wear one even if you can swim because “you never know.”
Red Cross boating safety representatives gave a boating safety talk and brought along some lifejackets to teach children how to properly fit and wear them prior to the fashion show.
“It just teaches them that these are something that they can depend on to keep them safe if they were to fall in the water after a boating accident,” Kentville Memorial Pool director Neiley Terrio said.
Red Cross boating safety officer Andrew Byrne said that statistics show an estimated 525 people drown in Canada between May 1 and Aug. 31. They were at the pool to promote wearing a lifejacket while boating or whenever you’re around the water. Although they were targeting kids with the July 23 presentation, they’re also trying to get the message across to adults.
“We see a lot of parents with their kids out on the water. The kids will be wearing a PFD but the parents won’t be,” Byrne said.
He said people between the ages of 15 and 34 are the largest at-risk group for drowning and 83 per cent of fatalities involve males.
“A big part of the message is that a lot of people drown from unexpected falls into the water,” Red Cross boating safety officer Paige Black said.
That’s why the ‘I can swim’ argument doesn’t hold much water when it comes to not wearing a lifejacket, she added.
Town of Kentville recreation intern Charles MacDougall said this is the first time national Drowning Prevention Week activities have been held at the pool.
“We want to offer facilities and programming,” MacDougall said. “This is a great program.”
Terrio said they were holding games at the pool as part of afternoon public swims during Drowning Prevention Week. She promised a surprise for kids in attendance for the public swim on July 25 between 2 and 4 p.m.