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When fishing or water skiing in fresh water, don’t drift too close to the shoreline – a prime nesting spot for Water Moccasins. These aggressive snakes will come after you if you disturb them. Their bite is poisonous and requires immediate treatment. If bitten, keep pressure and ice on the wound to prevent venom from spreading and seek attention at an emergency room that stocks antivenom, Dr. Schwirtlich says. 


Another caution, don’t drink alcohol while driving a boat. The laws for drinking and operating a watercraft are similar to those with a car. You could be arrested or, even worse, cause an accident because of your slowed reaction time. 


Saltwater creates another hazard – the potential for flesh eating bacteria to penetrate the skin through a puncture wound caused by a hook, catfish spine or stingray barb. If you do sustain a wound, clean it thoroughly, then visit the ER for a course of doxycycline to prevent infection or worse. Dr. Schwirtlich speaks from experience when he reminds people to shuffle their feet when wading. If you step on a sting ray, their automatic response will be to immediately flip up their spiny tail. Soak the affected area in water as hot as you can stand to relieve the pain. 


Likewise, encountering jellyfish tentacles is an all-too-common occurrence on our Texas beaches. Ammonia and meat tenderizer change the composition of the toxin to relieve the pain. Dr. Schwirtlich recommends keeping window cleaner with ammonia D handy to spray on the area in case of a sting. Packing with meat tenderizer also helps. 


Don’t let your fun in the sun be ruined by the unexpected. A little preparation will help you enjoy many happy water-filled memories. Physicians Premier allows patients to access the care they need when they need it, saving time, money, alleviating concern and allowing for a healthier patient and community. Find them at

Water Watchwords

Stay Safe, Alert to Avoid Accidents

By Amy Morgan


When the weather heats up, the refreshing water of the Texas lakes, rivers and coast start singing their siren song. Heed the advice of the health care professionals at Physicians Premier to make sure you stay safe as you surf and swim. 


Lonnie Schwirtlich, M.D., the founding partner of Physicians Premier, a free-standing emergency room located west of Highway 281 on Highway 46 near the HEB Plus, has been an emergency physician for the past 41 years. He’s seen firsthand what happens when a day on the water takes an unexpected turn. 


First and foremost – Dr. Schwirtlich reminds everyone to keep an eye on each member of their party when near any kind of water. Drowning can happen more quickly than you would imagine.


“Don’t ever leave kids unsupervised around water,” he said. “It only takes five minutes for someone to drown and be past the help of resuscitation.” Another way to protect children is to make sure they learn how to swim as early as possible. “You want them to be able to save themselves if they fall in the water for any reason,” Dr. Schwirtlich says. In case of an adult slipping in, he reminds a potential rescuer to attempt to throw something to pull the person to shore. “Don’t just jump in,” he cautioned, because a person is liable to pull you down with them in their panic. 


Life preservers will keep you buoyant should you fall or flip a jet ski or boat. Dr. Schwirtlich, an avid fisherman and surfer, advocates everyone wearing some type of flotation device. He prefers a thin net vest that can inflate in an instant with a CO2 cartridge instead of a bulky jacket. 

Never dive into flowing water, Dr. Schwirtlich warns. Even if you check for obstacles, a submerged log could drift into your landing spot while you are climbing up the cliff. A careless dive is not worth a broken neck! 

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