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Important Facts about Drowning

The sun is shining, the weather is getting warmer, and summer is quickly approaching. With the summer season comes vacation from school, and increased time spent on the water. Here at Goldstein & Hayes, P.C, our Atlanta personal injury lawyers want to ensure that you take all precautions to ensure your child’s (as well as your own) safety on the water. Drowning is the “process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid.”

According to the World Health Organization, drowning accounts for 7% of all injury-related deaths across the world, and is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide. Although global estimates may significantly underestimate the actual figure, it is estimated that there are around 372,000 drowning-related deaths annually around the world. That figure only accounts for those recorded drowning fatalities.

Those most at risk are children, males, and those with increased access to water. Low and middle income countries account for the majority of drowning deaths. In the United States, coastal drowning injuries and fatalities cost $273 million each year.

Risk Factors

The following are risk factors associated with drowning:

  • Age – across the world, the age group with the highest drowning rates are children 1-4 years old; the second highest risk group includes children aged 5-9. In the United States, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death in children aged 1-14.
  • Gender – Males have twice the overall rate of drowning of females, both resulting in death as well as hospitalization due to injuries. This risk has been attributed to males’ tendency toward risk-taking- i.e. drinking alcohol and swimming or boating alone.
  • Access to water- i.e. individuals whose job involves spending more time on the water, or children living in close proximity to bodies of water.
  • Living in flood-prone areas – drowning accounts for the majority of deaths during floods.
  • Water travel- i.e., travels in overcrowded, unsafe boats.
  • Economic status - those with a lower socioeconomic status are statistically more likely to drown. Those in rural areas are also at a greater risk of injury or death by drowning.

Furthermore, leaving children near water unsupervised is a common cause for drowning and swimming injuries. In addition, tourists unfamiliar with local bodies of water are at risk as well.

How to Prevent or Minimize Drowning Risk

There are many actions that can be taken to reduce or prevent the risk of drowning entirely in the community. For example, restricting access to water hazards by installing barriers is one way to significantly reduce risk. The community must ensure that young children are supervised at all times, so that they do not enter bodies of water unattended and without regard to safety rules.

It is also important to ensure that children are educated about water safety. Teaching children to swim, how to prevent drowning, as well as rescue skills can help to prevent injuries or death in the event that children are swimming unsupervised.