National Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week

water-life-preserver

“People always hear ‘Don’t Drink and Drive’, but drinking and boating can be just as dangerous,” says Dr. Laura Petrey on the medical staff in the trauma center at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has designated the week before Memorial Day as National Recreational Water Illness and Injury (RWII) Prevention Week. RWII Prevention Week 2013 will take place May 20-26, 2013, making the ninth anniversary of this observance.

Each year, RWII Prevention Week focuses on simple steps that individuals can take to help to ensure a healthy and safe water experience for everyone. Here’s some tips for the CDC to help you stay safe in the water this Memorial Day weekend.

AVOID ALCOHOL

Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing. Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.

SUPERVISE WHEN IN OR AROUND WATER

“Explore."

Designate a responsible adults to watch young children while in the bath and all children swimming or playing in or around water. Supervisors of preschool children should provide “touch supervision”, which means being close enough to reach the child at all times. Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as reading, playing cards, talking on the phone, or mowing the lawn) when supervising children, even if lifeguards are present.

USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM

Always swim with a buddy. Select swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible.

SEIZURE DISORDER SAFETY

If you or a family member has a seizure disorder, provide on-on-one supervision around the water, including swimming pools. Consider taking showers rather than using the bath tub for bathing. Wear life jackets when boating.

LEARN TO SWIM

Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. However, even when children have formal swimming lessons, constant, careful supervision when children are in the water, and barriers, such as pool fencing to prevent unsupervised access, are still important.

LEARN CARDIOPULMONARY RESUSCITATION (CPR)

In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive, your CPR skills could save someone’s life.

AIR-FILLED OR FOAM TOYS ARE NOT SAFETY DEVICES

Don’t use air-filled or foam toys, such as “water wings”, “noodles” or inner-tubes, instead of life jackets. These toys are not life jackets and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

“SHALLOW WATER BLACKOUT”

Don’t let swimmers hyperventilate before swimming underwater or trying to hold their breath for long periods of time. This can cause them to pass out (sometimes called “shallow water blackout”) and drown.

KNOW LOCAL WEATHER CONDITIONS BEFORE SWIMMINg OR BOATING

Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are dangerous.

INSTALL FOUR-SIDED FENCING

Install a four-sided pool fence that completely separates the pool area from the house and yard. The fence should be at least 4-feet high. Use self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches that are out of reach fo children. Also, consider additional barriers such as automatic door locks and alarms to prevent access or alert you if someone enters the pool area.

CLEAR THE POOL AND DECK OF TOYS

Remove floats, balls and other toys from the pool and surrounding area immediately after use so children are not tempted to enter the pool area unsupervised.

USE THE U.S. COAST GUARD APPROVED LIFE JACKETS

This is important regardless of the distance to be traveled, the size of the boat, or the swimming ability of boaters; life jackets can reduce the risk for weaker swimmers too.

KNOW AND OBEY WARNINGS BY COLORED BEACH FLAGS

These may vary from one beach to another.

WATCH FOR DANGEROUS WAVES AND SIGNS OF RIP CURRENTS

Some examples are water that is discolored and choppy, foamy, or filled with debris and moving in a channel away from shore. If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore. Once free of the current, swim diagonally toward shore.

By following these tips, you can enjoy a safe and fun summer filled with water activities!

About the author

Dr. Laura Petrey
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Dr. Petrey is a surgeon on the medical staff at the Level I Trauma Center at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. Dr. Petrey is dedicated to improving patient outcomes through her research at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas' Level I Trauma Center. Her commitment to her patients is evident in every aspect of her professional life; from care and devotion given to patients to experience and compassion to residents.

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National Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week