Ask a lifeguard: How to keep kids from drowning during pool season
'If you see kids who are starting to grab each other, that's generally a sign that something is wrong'
It's everyone's responsibility to look out for children in pools, particularly on days when the pool is crowded, says the head of the Quebec branch of the Lifesaving Society.
His comments follow the drowning of a six-year-old boy in the Montreal neighbourhood of Saint-Leonard on Monday evening.
Raynald Hawkins, the executive director of the society, said it's not solely the lifeguard's responsibility look out for people's safety.
"When I'm a lifeguard, I cannot supervise 50 patrons or users at the same time," he said.
When a lifeguard performs a visual sweep of the pool for signs of difficulty, the lifeguard's head may be turned away while a drowning is in progress outside of their field of vision.
Children get exhausted faster
For lifeguard Oliver Leiriao, 20, prevention is the best tool to prevent accidents.
"If you see kids who are starting to grab each other, that's generally a sign that something is wrong," Leiriao said.
"That's probably the scariest thing I've had to deal with."
Children tend to get exhausted faster than the average swimmer, Leiriao said, adding he can easily spot the ones aren't comfortable in the water.
If you see kids who are starting to grab each other, that's generally a sign that something is wrong.- Oliver Leiriao, lifeguard
Though a lifeguard was on duty the evening of the drowning, 40 to 50 children were reported to have been in the pool.
"If you're one guard, staring at the water for an hour, you lose focus," Leiriao said.
Life jackets and flotation devices are also available for the less experienced, or swimmers who are susceptible to drowning.
"It's all about taking precautionary measures to make sure nothing bad happens because accidents happen all the time," Leiriao said.
Before making any recommendations in terms of changing procedure, the Lifesaving Society said it's waiting for the coroner's report and a report from the Régie du bâtiment to determine whether anything went wrong.
With files from Matt D'Amours