Calm water, Sunshine, a cold beer, beach balls and cold clear bath water. The perfect recipe for a trip to the Danish beaches. The vast majority of people associate the greatest risk of walking in the big blue bathtub with firefighters and sunburns and splashing around pleasantly in the few weeks when the season and weather allow for Danish bathers. Although we constantly remind each other of dangerous waves, reef holes and that one can only go out to the navel, we always end up swimming around the waves far from where we can ourselves bottom. Literally. I myself grew up with a huge "it doesn't happen to me" mentality and you've probably learned to swim in primary school, which almost makes me an expert in water. Or?
No matter how experienced we are, most of us have tried to swim along the beach and suddenly you get cramp in the leg. It just won't stop and usually we're lucky enough that with an almost theatrical dog swimming we can get our way to a depth where we can bottom. Even though things were going well then, a quarter of us find ourselves close to drowning in our lives.
Every year, 16,000 bathers in Denmark experience near drowning. Accidents that occur because something unforeseen happens to bathers. Because you suddenly get cramp in your leg, maybe suddenly there's an undercurrent, or something else entirely. In these situations it is important to know what you as bathers should do and perhaps more importantly what you as a caregiver on the beach should do.
While you might think that "I would just go to the needy, pull him to shore and make sure everything was good", there are often several steps one can take to improve both the needy and one's own safety. Of course, the most important thing is always to "do something", or maybe you should call for help first? The big problem arises when you have swum so fast that you have grown tired before the actual rescue header has started. At the same time, you have placed yourself in the same situation as the needy, perhaps trapped in the middle of an undercurrent and suddenly in charge of someone else's life, while one can barely stay afloat.
All the thoughts fly through the head of one while standing almost petrified on the beach and suddenly a lifeguard is in the water with equipment, training and backup. It's all over before it finally started for your rescue and well the same. Because what would I have actually done? Did I know where the nearest lifebuoy was up in the dunes, and do I know how such a thing works? Aren't they really locked up so they don't get stolen, or is it just something I imagine? Or maybe there was never a lifeguard and I am left with the last memory of another human being. A silhouette out there in the water and a life that's been lost. Because if you're in the situation that you've seen someone who might be drowning, a lot of people don't know what you're going to do or want to do.
So maybe it's time we started talking about those beach rescues in a different way than just the five bathing rules and remembering sunscreen?