Mon Aug 8, 2022

‘Surf Doc’ to lead free water safety camp Friday at Lake Waccamaw [free read]

After the 2016 drowning death of a 16-year-old girl who became overcome by boat fumes and slipped into deep water at Lake Waccamaw, community members set up a site at Sigmon Landing for boaters to leave a life jacket or take a life jacket if needed. Dr. Peter Chambers has donated flotation devices to the pickup site himself, he said, but, “The life jackets just hang there.” Staff photo by Justin Smith

A free class this week will introduce ages 11–15 to basics of water safety and how to respond to water emergencies, said emergency and family doctor Peter Chambers. 

Chambers will hold a “water safety camp” at Lake Waccamaw State Park’s swim area from 1–4 p.m. Friday. Youth do not need to know how to swim to take part, according to Chambers. He said the class is sponsored by Southeastern Community College, Chambers said.

Dr. Peter Chambers

Activities planned are based on the “chain of drowning survival” that Chambers helped the American Red Cross adopt. Understanding water dangers, types of rescues, first aid, CPR, use of 911 and sun safety will prepare teens and preteens “to be safer around water and improve the safety of others around them,” he said. 

Chambers said he’s received “lots of response” from parents of children younger than 11, and they may be able to take part as well. Click here to register.

Chambers said Sylvia Cox, SCC executive vice president, approached him about teaching the three-hour camp. SCC’s other instructional summer learning camps have been “standing room only” due to high response, he said. Chambers, known to friends and colleagues as “Surf Doc,” is medical director for Columbus County Emergency Services and for SCC’s public health curriculum. 

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Chambers wants people of all ages to know “how to prepare themselves for a day at the beach or the lake,” and how to be “water watchers” who notice when a nearby swimmer is in distress, whether in open water or a pool. 

Camp participants need to wear bathing suits and bring towels, Chambers said. Instruction will take place in knee-deep water, with an opportunity for participants to go deeper if desired. He said the area would be well guarded and supervised, with parents and other volunteers helping. Snacks and drinks will be provided, Chambers said.

Related story: ‘The life jackets just hang there’ – physician urges ‘chain of survival’ to combat drowning

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