TOMS RIVER, NJ, JUNE 7, 2010 – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are more than 3,500 unintentional fatal drownings in the United States each year, averaging about 10 deaths per day. One quarter of all fatal drownings involve children 14 years and younger. The CDC says for every one child who dies from drowning, another four receive emergency department care for nonfatal injuries.
Laurence DesRochers, MD, chairman of Emergency Medicine at Community Medical Center, said that nonfatal drownings can cause brain damage, long-term disabilities, memory problems, learning malfunctions and permanent loss of basic functioning (i.e. permanent vegetative state).
The number one preventative measure people should take to prevent water-related deaths and injuries is to learn to swim. “Children and adults should know how to swim if they plan to go into the water – whether it be in a pool, lake, river or ocean,” Dr. DesRochers said. “Inexperienced swimmers should take exceptional precaution if they plan to go into any body of water.”
In addition, Dr. DesRochers said people should only swim in areas supervised by a trained and certified lifeguard.
To help protect you and your family this summer, here are some additional water-safety tips:
- Children who cannot swim should always wear an approved personal flotation device (PFD) not only in the water, but around the water. Children should never be left unsupervised around water.
- Be informed regarding the water you are swimming in including tides, rip currents, deep and shallow areas.
- Enter the water feet-first. Only dive into water that has been marked safe for diving.
- Do not mix alcohol or drugs with swimming as they impair your balance, judgement and coordination.
- Don’t go swimming in bad weather or rough water.
- Learn CPR so you can assist someone in trouble.
- Keep a phone nearby at all times so you can call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
- Enclose pool areas with safety gates and keep lifesaving devices nearby
- Completely remove pool covers before swimming
Dr. DesRochers warned that children are drawn to any type of water, so constant supervision is of critical importance. “If a child goes missing, check the water first,” he said. Check the edge of pools, streams, lakes, even the toilet or bathtub.”
If someone is hurt or injured while swimming, immediately seek emergency medical treatment by dialing 9-1-1. Check the victim’s pulse and begin CPR if they are not breathing. If a victim has injured themselves diving or has hurt their head, try not to move the patient very much and stabilize them on a solid surface.
“This is the time of year to enjoy all the joys of summer,” Dr. DesRochers said.
“Swimming can be a very fun summer activity if proper safety precautions are adhered to at all times.”
Community Medical Center’s Emergency Department offers a board-certified pediatrician in Emergency Department 24 hours a day, seven days a week and pediatric patients are treated in a special area of the Emergency Department with amenities just for children.
To learn more about pediatric emergency services at Community Medical Center, an affiliate of the Saint Barnabas Health Care System, call 1-888-724-7123 or visit www.sainitbarnabas.com.
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