A permanent fixture on the north-end of CHRISTUS St. Michael Hospital’s Health & Fitness Center is a 75-foot-long lap pool. The six lanes of swimming pool were constructed in 1998 as a way to build upon the wellness work already being done at the neighboring fitness center. With the pool’s dark blue tiles, and concrete deck, it has the standard look of a normal lap pool, but during the summer it transforms into a multiuse place that hosts a community. There’s water aerobics, triathlon trainees, recreational swimmers, lap swimmers and others taking swim lessons.
Mike Riley is the manager of the CHRISTUS St. Michael Health & Fitness Center and has been there since the beginning. In the early 90s, his beloved health and fitness center was converted from an old skating rink to the outstanding community health amenity it is today. Mike has spent a lifetime interested in physical education and remains dedicated to helping others build healthier lives.
Each summer, Mike and his team of lifeguards renew a commitment to summer safety and offer the following 5 safety tips for a stress free summer.
1.Know Your Capabilities
Summer heat drives people to try and cool off. While a quick swim in a body of water might seem like a good idea on a hot day, a wade into the water can turn into a bad idea if you don’t know your skill level. And, while the CHRISTUS St. Michael pool is clear and just 3 feet to 5 feet deep, Mike explains other bodies of water can be deceiving. The water can be moving faster than it appears to be from the shore, and an inexperienced swimmer can get caught in a strong current and panic. People walking into a river or the Ocean can find themselves three feet deep in one spot and seven feet deep just a few steps later.
“I cringe every time I hear of a drowning like this. You really need to know your swimming abilities and know your child’s level as well,” explains Mike. “We see a lot of inflatable flotation devices, from the ’floaties’ for the kids to the colorful vests, but this extra protection doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still remain watchful.”
2. Be Vigilant
While the lifeguards at CHRISTUS St. Michael add a layer of safety, Mike suggests parents still watch their children closely. According to Mike, close supervision is key. Pool emergencies can happen in a blink of an eye. So, as parents stock up on sunscreens, swimsuits and trendy pool floats, Mike says think about also investing in swim lessons. “Children have to respect the body of water, and water safety should begin at a young age,” he added.
3. Don’t be Stupid…Stupid
Mike laughs when he offers this piece of advice. But, he says it can sometimes be the obvious things that are lost on some people.
“Don’t run because you can slip, fall and hit your head,” explained Mike who also advises people not to bring prohibited glass or sharp objects to a pool. “You are going to a place where people aren’t wearing a lot of clothing. Don’t bring things that can hurt you or them.
Bring floats, beach volleyballs, things that are meant for summer fun.”
4. Don’t Get Burned!
Dermatologists say it really just takes one severe sunburn to double your child’s chances of getting melanoma later in life. There is no such thing as a healthy tan and sunscreen should be part of any healthy summer ritual.
Teach yourself and your children B.E.E.N.S. this summer to help you remember to cover the sometimes forgotten spots: Back of knees, Ears, Eye area, Neck and Scalp.
Mike says at the CHRISTUS St. Michael pool they provide sunscreen.
“We provide small bottles of sunscreen. They are labeled with our logo and an important part of staying safe in the summer.”
5. Mother Nature
Locked into a pattern of summer time heat means Mother Nature periodically shows off with impressive summer showers accompanied by one of the more dangerous summer hazards—a deadly weather phenomenon—lightning. The safest place during lightning activity is indoors. Lightning injuries and fatalities can happen when you are near or in water, near or under trees and tall objects like diving boards, lifeguard stands, and poles. At CHRISTUS St. Michael’s pool they live by the simple saying “When thunder roars, go indoors.” This means, if they hear thunder they know they have to close the pool down and clear the pool deck.
So, as we continue to carry on through these summer days, Mike hopes these safety tips will do others some good. That way these summer days can be a little happier and carefree for everyone which is a dream come true for Mike and his CHRISTUS St. Michael team who are committed to the very best in well-being for others.