(CNN) – On Good Friday 2017, Wyatt Werneth received a phone call from his wife, who had gone shopping for groceries with his daughter: the car broke down. Please save us.
Driving through the Patrick Space Force Base near Cape Canaveral, Florida, Warneth got into his vehicle to help. From the A1A highway, Verneth said you can see the sea.
What he saw next was a turn of fate that led to a more immediate rescue.
“I could see someone floating in traffic as I passed … I pulled in to see what was happening; I had an immediate instinct that something was happening in the water,” Werneth told CNN Travel. Remembered.
“When I got to Burma, I had no idea what I was getting into. There were a lot of people in the water.”
And they were in trouble. Very serious trouble. Tear up the current kind of trouble.
The scene would send a chill of fear down anyone’s spine – but at least Verneth was ready. He is an experienced lifeguard instructor and had water rescue equipment with him.
But with at least five people struggling in an evil Atlantic rip current, how will they all survive?
The statistics are horrible
An estimated 3,960 fatal inadvertent drownings occur each year in the United States (including boating incidents). It results in an average of 11 drownings per day.
Crowds flock to the sea and sand of South Beach in Miami. Florida has the highest number of drownings per 100,000 people in the United States. It is important to understand how to enjoy open water safely.
Lazillama / Adobe stock
From 2015 to 2019, the states with the highest number of drownings per 100,000 people were:
And then there are even more non-fatal drowning incidents. The CDC says those who survive a drowning event have a range of outcomes: “from no injuries to very serious injuries or permanent disability.”
The tragedy is that many of these deaths and injuries are preventable, experts say. What can you do to enjoy the water – be it the sea, the river, the lake or the swimming pool – safely and not join the ranks of those who have died from drowning? Turns out, a lot.
Who is most at risk?
Men jump into the waters of the Bosphorus on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, also known as the Asian side. Men around the world are at higher risk of drowning than women.
Moe Zoari / Bloomberg / Getty Images
It is important to know who is more likely to drown. Risk groups need the most attention. Some of them in the United States are:
Minority groups: The fatal drowning rate for people of American Indian or Alaskan descent 29 and younger is twice as high as for whites. For blacks, the rate is 1.5 times higher than for whites.
Tips to prevent drowning
Kids get a swimming lesson at the YMCA in Memphis, Tennessee. Research has shown that participating in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning.
Karen Pulfer Focht / The Commercial Appeal / AP
However, “children who have learned to swim need close and constant monitoring while still in or around the water,” the agency writes. Do not be distracted by TV, books or phone while watching children in the water.
If you drink alcoholic beverages, stay away from water and do not go boating. Impaired judgment and slow reactions can lead to tragedy.
People aboard boats and weak swimmers, especially in open water, should wear life jackets.
And keep an eye on the weather. Get out if there is a hurricane or heavy rain.
Know the water environment
People are swimming in the surf at Wymea Bay Beach Park on the north coast of Ohio, Hawaii, under a warning flag. Experts say do not underestimate the power of the waves, even if there is no official warning.
Caleb Jones / AP
Understand the water you are about to enter. Different substances in water carry different types of hazards.
Ocean rip current
These currents flow away from the shore. They mostly form in sand bars at break times and near pillars and rock groins.
Stay calm. Rip currents do not pull you underwater but carry you farther from shore.
નહીં Do not swim against the current. The USLA says “try to escape by stepping out of the stream in the direction following the shore.” You can avoid swimming or walking in the water and let the flow out.
If you are in trouble, shout and shake for help.
If you’re not trained, don’t try to save people yourself. Find a lifeguard, call 911 or throw a flotation device in their way. Direct the person to swim parallel to the shore to escape.
Other Ocean Tips
Tubing and other activities are popular in rivers. But rapid currents and obstacles below the surface or debris can be dangerous.
“Research the river before you enter,” Warneth said.
The personal watercraft embraces the shore at Blue Marsh Lake near Reading, Pennsylvania. In that state, you need a Boating Safety Education Certificate in your possession to operate one. The US Coast Guard says you should wear a life jacket that protects the torso while riding. Also, do not jump awake and do not drink alcohol before the operation.
Ben Hasty / Media News Group / Reading Eagle / Getty Images
Lakes and ponds
And even if your kids know how to swim, adults should be careful. Keep flotation devices on hand.
Lack of national lifeguards
Raging Waters at Cal Expo in Sacramento, California Lifeguard watches visitors swimming at Sacramento Water Park. There is a shortage of guards this year, so be more vigilant.
David Paul Morris / Bloomberg / Getty Images
Warneth said the group’s message has always been “to swim against the lifeguard.” But he said the reality of scarcity is encouraging a new one: “Learn to swim, America.”
“We want people to become self-sufficient. Assign someone in your family as a water inspector. Let that person learn CPR.”
And if a person can’t swim and still wants to get married, “put a life jacket on them. It will make a difference.”
Back on that Florida beach in 2017, Werneth’s work was daunting. But his head was cold, he had decades of experience – and fortunately, there was another experienced assistant on hand who he later learned was from the Air Force.
“Before I got there he was single-handedly pulling people out …. that Air Force guy was coming back together. I saw he had a guy fainting, and I immediately jumped into the water, swimming. Came out, grabbed the unconscious person and pulled him out. “
Warneth estimated they were about 50 yards out, and he recalls they pulled five male teens out of the water. They weren’t even in swimming attire, Warneth said, adding that he felt it was a momentary decision to enter the ocean.
Would the group have died without a rescue, leaving him exhausted?
“I assure you they will all have. … These people were going inside to help each other, and that caused the chain to react. Don’t go into the water to help anyone without a flotation device,” he said.
“It was the right time for me to show up and be there to help people.” All because the family car was broken. But not everyone can rely on luck.
In the end, you need “water confidence”, which is gained through experience and respect for water.
“Fear is what causes panic that causes drowning.”