Factors That Increase Chance of a Swimming Death
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one swimming death occurs every 2.4 hours in the United States. Of the ten casualties reported daily, two are 14-years old or younger. For every young person that dies, five more are seen in the emergency department for nonfatal injuries. These statistics do not include boating related fatalities, which increase the number by an additional 350 people each year.
The enormity of the problem is evident with the loss of over 3,500 lives annually. One-fifth of all fatalities are children, and one-third of those are under the age of four. Home pools account for 25 percent of those casualties, and swimming pools are the second leading cause of childhood fatalities. Proper barriers reduce the risk for children under the age of four by 83 percent. Teaching infants and children under the age of four how to swim and float lowers the risk of drowning.
Drowning Risk Factors
- Lack of ability. Appropriate water skills are important for people of any age. In fact, a higher percentage of young people have basic skills than older people.
- Living with a seizure disorder. Drowning is the leading cause of death for people with a seizure disorder.
- Alcohol or drug use. Alcohol or drugs are part of approximately 72 percent of all water-related fatalities. Alcohol and drugs can influence coordination, balance, and judgment.
- Failure to wear life preservers. An estimated 88 percent of fatalities are linked to failure to wear protective gear.
Practice Water Safety
When people practice safe swimming, death is preventable, and 3,500 lives could be saved every year with the proper precautions. Water safety is important regardless of age, and it begins with mindfulness. Teach children how to respect the water and ensure the right barriers surround home pools. Never underestimate the natural flow of water, and be prepared to help someone in distress.
Here are some tips on how to avoid drowning:
- Remember to use the buddy system. Enjoy water activities with friends, or only use sites that provide an on-duty lifeguard.
- Supervision is important, even if the child has experience. A child does not fully comprehend the consequences of dangerous situations.
- Take appropriate safety steps if a family member has a seizure disorder. Never enter water alone and wear a life jacket.
- Alcohol and water do not mix. Do not enter the water while drinking.
- Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, saves lives.
- Local weather conditions can make rivers or streams unstable and dangerous. Seemingly calm water can have a strong undertow.
- A life preserver is safety equipment. Foam toys and air-filled toys are not safety devices.
Water is enjoyable, and the number one activity in water is swimming. Do not let death ruin a good time. Mindfulness and preparation ensures water does not rob a family of a friend or loved one to a swimming death.