Summer Holiday Safety in the Lowcountry, Daniel McMahon, MD
Food and fireworks abound this holiday week and though we see a lot of both in the Lowcountry when we celebrate, there is something that we will see more of – water. We are surrounded by beaches, lakes, marshes and rivers.
At Kiawah-Seabrook Medical Care, we see boaters, fishermen and swimmers with cuts from oyster shells, bad sunburns and heat-related illnesses – all issues that can be avoided with the proper precautions. But one of the things we dread most is getting a call about a recreational water accident, near-drowning or drowning.
We all know water safety is important, yet more than 10 people in the U.S. drown each day according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This summer we urge you to make water safety a top priority.
• Prevent unsupervised access to the water. Young children should not be left unsupervised at any time near any body of water. That includes large fountains. Watch them every single minute, maintaining constant supervision. It is that simple.
• Swim only in designated swimming areas with lifeguard supervision.
• Swimming in a natural body of water is different from swimming in a pool and requires more skills and energy due to currents, water temperatures and sand.
• Old or young, weaker swimmers need to wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets whenever they are in, on or even just around water. Do not rely on “water wings” or inflatable toys.
• If you live on a river or marsh or own a pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment on hand such as reaching tools or ropes, life jackets and a first aid kit.
It is also important for those who plan on being near water or enjoy water sports to know what to do in an emergency.
• If a person is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability. Near-drownings cause brain damage to thousands annually.
• Have access to a cell phone and call 9-1-1.
• When the person is located in the water, reach out to him using any available object that will extend your reach.
• Do not get into the water unless you are a trained professional, or unless the water is shallow. If the water is shallow put on a life jacket, wade into the water and reach toward the person with a pole, branch or flotation device.
Summertime should be a carefree, relaxed season whether you are on vacation or live in the Lowcountry. So, using common sense goes a long way toward ensuring summertime fun.
Swim lessons are offered at many locations in the Charleston area. To find one near you, visit the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission website:
Roper St. Francis Healthcare