Warmer weather is rapidly approaching us, albeit hesitantly as of late. With rising temperatures and extended hours of sunlight comes open campgrounds, hours spent at the lake and lazy days around the pool.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, each day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning and, of these, two are children aged 14 or younger.
Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States, and for one in every five who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
Primary factors found affecting drowning risk are:
Lack of swimming skill: Adults and children alike fall victim to this risk. Formal swimming lessons can greatly reduce drowning risks.
Lack of barriers: Four-sided pool fencing that separates a pool area from the house and yard can reduce a child’s risk of drowning by up to 83% compared to a three-sided property-line fence, according to the CDC.
Lack of close supervision: Drownings can happen quickly and quietly anywhere water is present, including bathtubs, swimming pools, buckets, puddles, sinks, etc., and even when lifeguards are on duty.
Location: People from different age groups are more prone to drown in different locations. For instance, most children ages 4 and under drown in home swimming pools. According to the CDC, the percentage of drownings in natural water settings, such as lakes, rivers and oceans, increases with age. More than half of fatal and nonfatal drownings among those 15 years and older occur in natural water settings.
Failure to wear life jackets: Most boating deaths recorded by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2010 were caused by drowning, with 88% of victims not wearing life jackets.
Alcohol use: Alcohol use is involved in up to 70% of adolescent and adult water recreation deaths, almost one-fourth of emergency department visits for drowning and about one in five reported boating deaths. Alcohol influences balance, coordination and judgment, with its effects are exacerbated by heat and sun exposure.
Seizure disorders: Drowning is the most common cause of unintentional injury death for persons suffering from seizure disorders, with the bathtub posing the highest drowning risk.
Swimming lessons improve basic swimming lessons for children and adults alike. Learning CPR can extend a life in an emergency situation – every second counts. Life jackets reduce risks on the open water. Supervision, especially a form of touch supervision for smaller children or insecure swimmers, should always be practiced. Swim with a buddy or at sites with a lifeguard on duty.
You can learn more about staying safe on and around the water by visiting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s information page.