By: Jenny Kuo, DO; St. Charles Parish Hospital
Millions of us enjoy warm weather every year by going to the beach, swimming in pools, water skiing and boating. However, because water sports and boating are fun and enjoyable, people often don’t think about the risks involved, and as a result, don’t follow basic and necessary safety measures.
Why is water safety so important? It only takes a moment. A child or a weak swimmer can drown in the times it takes to reply to a text, check a fishing line or apply sunscreen. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, drowning is the number one cause of death among children ages 1-4 and is a leading cause of death among teens.
Everyone who participates in water sports of any kind should know the basic rules of safety. Follow the guidelines below to ensure your safety, as well as the safety of others, while in or on the water.
Secure pools with appropriate barriers and designate a water guardian to supervise children ANY TIME there is access to water—69 percent of children who drown do so when they are not swimming. Don’t let your guard down just because you are inside. Ensure that everyone in the home knows how to swim by enrolling them in age-appropriate water orientation and swim courses. Establishing and enforcing firm rules and behaviors, such as ‘no diving’, ‘stay away from drain covers’, ‘swim with a buddy’ and ‘walk please’ is helpful for pool safety.
While boating or in open water, you should ALWAYS wear a properly fitted life jacket. Boating under the influence of alcohol is just as deadly as drinking and driving. So, play it safe and avoid alcohol when you’re on a boat. To avoid CO (carbon monoxide) poisoning, which is emitted by all internal combustion engines, ensure there is enough ventilation, properly install and maintain equipment and use CO detectors, especially in living and sleeping areas of your boat.
When water skiing, a spotter (someone other than the driver of the boat) should always keep an eye on the skier. Always check the towline before each skier skis. It is also important to maintain a reasonable, safe speed and steer clear of docks and away from other boats.
Be sure to carry extra safety supplies and equipment with you when you are boating. The supplies and equipment should be accessible yet stored safely and securely. These can include extra life jackets, a mobile phone, first aid kit, equipment manual and tools, bottles of water and towels. Ensure you and your passengers are aware of these items and know how to use them properly.
Enjoy the warm weather in Louisiana and stay safe!
Dr. Jenny Kuo is a family medicine physician, treating patients 15 years and older. Originally from Houma, Louisiana, she attended college at Tulane University in New Orleans and later attended medical school at the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Kuo went on to complete her residency in Cleveland, OH with a fellowship in academic medicine focusing on the care of the underserved. She has a special interest in functional and integrative medicine, preventative care, women’s health, geriatric health and advanced care planning. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Kuo at St. Charles Parish Hospital or Ochsner Health Center- Luling (1057 Paul Maillard Road, Luling, LA 70070), please call 985-785-5771.