Summer is a time to enjoy water activities and be safe.
Cindy Loeffler, RN, is the trauma nurse coordinator for Hill Country Memorial Hospital. She said emergency room employees see risks of water activities first-hand and are compelled to share tips with the public.
“The ER staff is exceptionally trained and experienced, and we’ll do everything we can for those who have water accidents, but the first line of defense for anyone is to make smart choices for themselves and their children when around water,” Ms. Loeffler said.
The HCMH ER team provided water safety tips from the Texas Trauma Coordinators Forum.
•Always supervise young children while in the bathtub, swimming or playing in or around water. Adults should not be distracted while watching children by activities such as reading, talking on the phone or playing cards.
•Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating or other water activities. Don’t drink alcohol while supervising children. Designate an adult who is not drinking to supervise the children if other adults wish to drink.
•Learn to swim.
•Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). CPR by bystanders has been shown to improve outcomes in drowning victims.
•Do not use air-filled or foam toys such as “floaties” or “water wings” or “noodles” in place of life jackets (personal flotation devices or PFDs). They are not designed to keep swimmers or boaters safe.
•If you have a swimming pool, install a four-sided pool fence that completely separates the house from the pool area. It should be at least four feet high and have a self-closing, self-latching gate that opens outwards. The latches should be out-of-reach of children. Remove pool floats, balls and other toys from the pool after use to deter children from leaning to reach and falling in the water.
•Be careful when diving. Dive only in safe areas, such as the deep end of the pool. Even feet-first jumping requires checking for hazards first.
•Use U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets when boating, whether the boat is a large speedboat or a canoe—and whether one is a good swimmer or not. Be aware of “boater’s fatigue” which refers to wind, noise, heat and boat vibrations all combining to wear down passengers and increasing accident potential.
•Know the meanings and obey the warnings represented by colored beach flags.
•Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents. If caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore until free of the current and then swim toward shore.
•For additional information on water safety or water safety courses, contact Texas Parks and Wildlife at tpwd.state.tx.us/fisboat