Archived Story

Jump in to water safety

Published 11:49am Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sunshine and summertime put people in mind of long days spent at the pool, but another thought that may surface is water safety – a countrywide focus with National Water Safety Month being observed in May.

The product of a partnership between the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals, the American Red Cross, the National Recreation Park Association and the World Waterpark Association, National Water Safety Month is a public education and awareness campaign with the mission to bring “safe, enjoyable aquatic activities to the American public, from home pools and spas to water parks and resorts, to public swimming and water recreation facilities,” as stated on the official website.

A large part of this mission is to educate individuals and organizations on how to make aquatic activities safer for swimmers, parents, children, lifeguards and anyone else who participates.

It’s a mission that’s shared by Alexander City Parks and Recreation.

“If those gates are open, there’s a lifeguard there,” said Jennifer Baker, Parks and Rec program director, who oversees the city pool. “We are very conscientious that all of our lifeguards are trained. Accidents are going to happen, but we go to great lengths to make sure that the pool and around the pool is safe, that diving boards have a surface that’s not slippery – I think we do everything possible to prevent accidents.”

The city pool, formerly the Russell pool, will open May 28. It is open to the public from 1–5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and cost is $2.

When the pool isn’t in use by the public, swimming lessons are another annual program.

“Every summer we offer three sessions of swimming lessons through the Red Cross,” Baker said. “You just never know when a child is going to go out that door or gate and fall in that pool and not know what to do. I just think (swimming lessons) are very important.”

Lessons will begin June 3 and are available for ages 3 and up, including adults. Baker said they might also offer infant aquatics.

The cost is $30 per two-week session. Classes meet Monday through Thursday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. or 5:15 p.m. for 45 minutes per class.

A lifeguarding class will also be offered by the Red Cross, set to begin May 20.

“It’s something that’s vitally important to be able to help somebody,” said Sammy Teel, who will be the class instructor. “As much water as we have in Alexander City and Tallapoosa County, there’s always a need.”

The class is open to those 15 and older, but Teel said they recommend it for 16 and older. The cost is $115, which covers instruction in lifeguarding, AED and CPR.

The class begins May 20 at 3:30 p.m. and will last about a week and a half for a total of 25 hours. Participants must be able to swim 300 yards. They must also be able to swim 25 yards to pick up a 10-pound-block and swim back in less than a minute.

Melissa Poe, director of the Alabama Lakes Chapter of the America Red Cross, said the Red Cross strongly encourages swimming lessons to help with water safety.

“Anytime you hear about there being a drowning it just makes you sick to your stomach,” Poe said. “If parents can afford to get their children into the swimming classes this year, most definitely they need to.”

The Red Cross also offers Whales Tales – a safety information class for children in fourth grade or younger. Poe said people can call the Red Cross to schedule a class for a daycare, camp or scout troop.

According to the Center for Disease Control, about 10 people die every day from unintentional drowning unrelated to boating.

To find out more about water safety, visit To sign up for the lifeguarding class, call the Red Cross at 256-234-3291. To sign up for swimming lessons call 256-329-6736.