Lifeguards or not: Safety first!

Dear Family Travelers:

With little fanfare, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has begun to implement a fleet-wide water safety program with lifeguards, coast guard approved life jackets, water safety signage and what I believe is a first — water safety activities in its organized Adventure Ocean kids and teens program.

The goal is “to raise awareness amongst our guests about the importance of vigilance while enjoying water features on our ships,” the company statement said. At the moment, however, there won’t be lifeguards at the cruise line’s private Caribbean island.

According to a poll currently on the Cruise Critic home page, 34 per cent of cruisers now think cruise ships should have lifeguards. That’s a 10 percent increase over the past four years, says Colleen McDaniel, senior executive editor.
Last summer, a child died after a pool incident on an RCCL ship sailing out of New York City.

Spring Break, of course, is one of the busiest times of the year for family cruisers. That’s why it’s important to underscore the importance of water safety on board. Family cruisers don’t realize that lifeguards on board still aren’t the norm in the industry — although this is a move in the right direction.

You will see them on board Disney ships and on their private islands. You will also see staff who have been trained in water rescue stationed at family pools on Norwegian ships but they are not lifeguards, spokesmen say.
Carnival Cruise Line, which carries the most children in the industry, has no lifeguards but does have complimentary Coast Guard approved life jackets on board.
Many resorts don’t have pool lifeguards either. Even when there are lifeguards, they are not there to watch your kids, water safety experts stress: They are there to enforce the rules and respond in an emergency, Drownings happen silently and in seconds, even to those who know how to swim. And for every child who drowns (nearly 700 in 2015 according to federal statistics) five others receive emergency department care. Some may never recover fully.
The American Red Cross says that’s why parents must keep eyes on their children at all times. Designate one of the adults in the group to watch the kids for a set amount of time and then switch off. With younger kids, stay no farther than arm’s length away.
It’s also key to each kids to swim! Visit redcross.org/takeaclass for programs in your area and download the free American Red Cross Swim App with kid-friendly games, videos and quizzes.
Spread the safety word!

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