ThedaCare Health Matters By: P. Michael Shattuck, MD, Emergency Department phyisician
Summer is a great time to enjoy being outdoors. Swimming is a common summertime activity, and it is a good way to be physically active; however, there are some potential health hazards while swimming that generally can be avoided by taking precautions while enjoying the water. Swimming is an acquired skill. Learning to swim at a young age can be lifesaving if someone ends up in the water unintentionally. Swimming lessons are offered for children, so they can learn to swim even if their parents don’t know how. Toddlers and young children need close supervision around pools or lakes. Except for birth defects, drowning is the leading cause of death in children one to four years old. Pools that are fenced have less chance of young children falling in. Currently, there are life jackets and floating devices available that are comfortable, effective, and help reduce the chance of drowning. Pools with bottom drains can be dangerous; recent stories have shown children caught in the suction of the drain by their hair or a body part are unable to get free. The best way to prevent a child from drowning is to closely supervise them around water.