Tips to avoid water-related accidents
Drowning is the third leading cause of death among children in the United States. In North Carolina, drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death (behind motor vehicle crashes) for children aged 0-17. Unlike the dramatic drowning scenes movies often depict, it can take just seconds for a child to drown, and it often happens silently.
Whether you are spending time at a pool, lake or beach this summer, it is important for parents to always designate a ‘water watcher’. Water watchers must stay close proximity to their children, and keep an eye on them at all times as they play in the water. It is recommended to select swimming areas with lifeguards on duty; however, the ratio of lifeguards to swimmers is often imbalanced, and parents and/or guardians are also responsible for ensuring safety while enjoying a day at the pool or beach.
Having the proper water safety equipment is also important. Children who cannot swim or who are just beginning to learn may need to wear a personal floatation device (PFD) properly fitted for their weight and age. When selecting floatation devices, it is important to find one that is U.S. Coast Guard certified and is designed according to the appropriate level for your child. Most PFD’s have labeling on the back panel to indicate this information. In the incidence of a water-related accident or drowning, call 911 immediately. In partnership with Guilford County’s emergency response services and Safe Guilford Injury Prevention Coalition, Cone Health’s Emergency and Trauma Services are dedicated to educating individuals about water safety techniques, and delivering prompt, exceptional care to patients throughout the community.
Leigha Shepler is the injury prevention coordinator for the trauma department at Cone Health. She also manages the activities of Safe Guilford, the injury prevention coalition for Guilford County, and provides outreach and education on child passenger, bike and pedestrian safety, and fall prevention for older adults. Leigha received a Master of Science in Health Promotion from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2001, and has been in her current position for seven years.