The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) recently studied mortality records from the Department of Public Health over the last seven years in Georgia to determine if swimming pool drownings and other drowning deaths related to recreational activities were reducing in number since safety awareness efforts had increased in the state. The conclusion drawn by the data, which carefully isolated cases involving swimming pools and recreational bodies of water, was not hopeful. AJC researches determined that drowning deaths in Georgia have been on the rise since 2013.
Drowning Deaths are Nearly Always Preventable
A spokesperson from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) was quoted as saying that “many of these [recreational drowning] deaths are preventable if people followed safety rules.” It is a disheartening message to hear after officials throughout Georgia from multiple departments have pushed for better safety regulations and, perhaps more importantly, more campaigns to make the average Georgian aware of drowning dangers.
New efforts may need to be more specific to target the demographics at the greatest risk of fatally drowning in swimming pools, ponds, and lakes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 80% of fatal drowning victims in the country are young men under the age of 35. The AJC research determined that nearly 90% of drowning victims in Georgia in 2016 belonged to that demographic. It is believed that young men are more likely to drown due to a proclivity to engage in reckless and self-endangering behavior, either for sport or for entertainment. Young men may also be more likely to assume that they are strong swimmers, regardless of real world experience with swimming and dealing with water hazards.
Dangerous Bodies of Water in Georgia
Lake Allatoona and Lake Lanier – northwest and northeast of Atlanta, respectively – were identified as the two most dangerous bodies of water in Georgia in terms of drowning fatalities. The Chattahoochee River south of Atlanta was also identified as an “accident-prone” area, with about half as many drowning deaths in the same study period as the Allatoona and the Lanier Lakes. AJC researchers also noted that the number of fatal drownings at these locations could be higher since they had to rely on death certificates that often did not give specific details on how a person perished at these three sites.
Addressing the Issue of Swimming Pool Safety
On lakes, rivers, and the Georgia shoreline, it can be difficult to create safety systems that prevent young children and inexperienced swimmers from entering the water. The Department of Public Health urges parents to keep a close eye on kids in such situations, as their vigilance is the first and best line of defense there. However, for swimming pools, there is an opportunity to enhance safety.
75% of Georgian children who drown in recreational settings drown in pools, most of which are privately owned in backyards. In response to this clear and present danger, legislation throughout Georgia has been recently updated to require locking gate systems that are at least four-feet tall to be placed around every pool in the state. This gate system regulation is not new, but it is new in the way that it is now statewide. Hopefully this change and more in the future will help bring the number of preventable drowning deaths in Georgia down to zero.
For more information about the rate of Georgia drowning deaths, click here to visit the full article posted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. If you need an Atlanta personal injury lawyer after a loved one was injured or fatally drowned in a swimming accident that you believe was caused by another party’s negligence, you are encouraged to call 888.425.6070 at any time to connect with Goldstein Hayes & Lina, LLC. Free consultations are available to prospective clients.