Calling over 60s - brush up on water safety and learn emergency skills

Older residents can take advantage of a free water safety program that benefits their health, offers lifesaving skills, and provides emergency training that could save the life of grandchildren in their care.

The Grey Medallion is a water safety and lifesaving skills program for over 60s.

It aims to reduce drowning and aquatic related injury in older Australian’s and encourage healthy independent and active lifestyles.

The course comprises four modules and will be conducted over four weeks at Oak Flats Pool. The modules are:

1.      Water Safety Knowledge
2.      Aquatic Exercise
3.      Resuscitation and Emergency Care
4.      Personal Survival and Lifesaving Skills

The program is offered free thanks to a grant from Coordinare - South Eastern NSW Primary Health Network. 

Shellharbour City Council General Manager Carey McIntyre said older Australians and young children were regarded as being more vulnerable to drowning risk.

The prevention of emergencies depended on one’s ability to apply simple water safety actions, he said.

“The Grey Medallion is tailored for all abilities and provides a great opportunity for participants to exercise and have fun while learning skills that might one day save a life – their own or someone else’s,” Mr McIntyre said.

“The program is particularly useful for those who look after grandchildren, or seniors who’d like to refresh their water safety knowledge and learn vital resuscitation skills.”

Kimberley Noffs, Royal Life Saving Society NSW Branch Health Promotion Manager, said grandparents were often best placed to prevent child drowning.

“Each year an average of 30 children under five lose their lives in Australia in backyard swimming pools, ponds, bath tubs, rivers, beaches and other aquatic locations,” Ms Noffs said.

“These days, grandparents are typically bearing more of the responsibility when it comes to looking after grandchildren, so they’re often best placed to respond to emergency situations and potentially prevent drownings.

A 2016 Royal Life Saving National Drowning Report showed there were 58 drowning deaths of people aged 65 years and over, representing 21% of all drowning deaths. This is a significant increase against the 10 year average.

Open water environments - particularly rivers, creeks and streams - were considered a concern with this age group because of the diversity of activities in which they participated.

Ms Noffs said parents and grandparents were boating, fishing and swimming their way into retirement.

“They need to keep safe, check their health and fitness and take precautions before heading off to enjoy the water.

“As well as acquiring first aid skills and water safety knowledge, boosting physical stamina can help you in an emergency.

“Aquatic exercise is an ideal form of physical activity for older people because it is low impact and is suitable for both active people and those with restricted mobility. 

Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of heart attack, improve blood cholesterol, lower blood pressure and even help to prevent falls and injury.

VENUE: Oak Flats Pool, Cnr Kingstone and Hope Streets, Oak Flats
DATE/TIME: 10am each Thursday for 4 weeks, starting 31 August
REQUIREMENTS: Participants must be 60 years or older
TO REGISTER: Phone Oak Flats Pool 4256 1362

MEDIA OPPORTUNITY: Wednesday 9.10am, Oak Flats heated pool (grandfather and grandchild available for photos/interviews)

Media enquiries: Kelli Wells 4221 6038 or 0448 361 008