HMG Health Matters: Tri-Cities mom teams with pediatricians to prevent child drownings

HMG Health Matters

(WJHL) — A Tri-Cities family went on vacation…and their lives changed forever.

In 2018, the Hughes Family was at a vacation home and their son Levi snuck away to the pool. They found him, but he died hours later.  

Drowning is the number one cause of death in children ages one to four and the number two cause of death for kids ages five to 14.  

We talked with a pediatrician from Holston Medical Group to get advice on how to keep kids safe…and a Tri-Cities mother is on a mission to save other families from the pain of losing a child.

Nichole Hughes started Levi’s Legacy after her son accidentally drowned. She is on a mission to make sure no one else goes through the pain she feels every day.

“How did we not know, how can we help other parents know, what would have changed our situation,” she said.

Levi’s Legacy created Water Guardian Tags, provides scholarships for infant swimming courses, and works with the American Academy of Pediatrics to help educate pediatricians on water safety so they can pass it to their patients. Dr. Jessica Hommel is one of those pediatricians.

“So we talk about avoiding puddle jumpers, getting in survival swim lessons and trying to make them as safe as possible,” Hommel said. “But the number one thing is constant supervision.” Obstacles, like fencing and locks leading to the pool are critical to keeping kids out of danger.

“It’s layers of protection,” she emphasized. “Kids can drown in 30 seconds, so you’re just trying to slow them down with as many barriers as possible.”

Hommel says survival swim lessons can add precious time to save a child.


“The goal is that when they accidentally fall into the water,  they know how to get to a float position and buy you the 30 seconds to catch up with them,” she says.  

Hughes hopes talking about the risks of drowning, and educating parents will lower the number of drowning cases and devastated families.

“Giving parents a chance to say, ‘Hey, this happened to this family, and this is a conversation starter,'” she said.

You can learn more about Levi’s Legacy, and Infant Survival swim lessons on the Health Matters blog.  

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