Community lifeguards ??

Among the many positive aspects of the Collinwood neighborhood is that we have a genuine jewel right in our own front yard: Lake Erie. A great pleasure of mine is a run (OK, a slow jog) followed by a swim in the lake.

Along with all of its beauty, though, the lake still holds many perils. It's relative shallowness makes its behavior the most unpredictable of the five Great Lakes. Riptides/ripcurrents and undertows are not uncommon.

Our local beaches have unfortunately seen tragedy in the form of drownings over the years, with the most recent being a 12 year old girl last summer.

There appears to be a few contributing factors here, in addition to the sheer power of the lake:

  • No lifeguards at Euclid Beach, and limited coverage at Villa Angela Beach.
  • Inexperienced and non-swimmers venturing in beyond their safety zone
  • Lack of parental / caregiver supervision.

These are factors that have obvious solutions, any of which would only lessen the chance of another drowning.

Meanwhile - for those of us who visit the beaches, and are strong confident swimmers - there could be a way that we individually make a contribution to the overall safety of the lake.

This is an idea I would like to suggest to the community.

As you are relaxing on the beach, consider the concept of a 'community' lifeguard.

The voluntary responsibilities of a community lifeguard would be straightforward: Watch the portion of the lake within your view, looking for signs of potential trouble.

Potential trouble could include:

People swimming alone, severe weather, alcohol or drug use by swimmers..

One tactic could be to visually focus in on groups, taking a mental count of the number of swimmers, and checking frequently.

We would be taking on the age-old role of a swimming buddy: someone who has your back while you are in the water.

We have many neighborhood block watch groups, that do a great job of keeping our neighborhoods safer through their concern and vigilance.

While not an organized group -perhaps community lifeguarding could help in a similar way.

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Volume 2, Issue 6, Posted 10:36 PM, 06.02.2010