Drowning Facts

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Drowning and other water related injuries are something that many people take an "It won't affect me" stance about.  The following facts come from several reputable sources and illustrate the seriousness of aquatic safety.

bulletDrowning is silent. The instinctive drowning response closes off a victim's airway and they cannot yell or call for help.  This prevents water from entering the lungs, but it prevents air from entering the lungs as well. Because of this, "dry drowning" often occurs where no water is aspirated and the victim simply suffocates (Nowak 2005.)
bulletIn 2001, 859 children ages 0 to 14 years died from drowning (Center for Disease Control 2003). While drowning rates have slowly declined (Branche 1999,) drowning remains the second-leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years (Center for Disease Control 2003.)
bulletPanic often perpetuates a distressed or drowning victim.  Somebody who is a mediocre swimmer can easily be overcome by the panic of a cramp, seaweed, fish, cold water, deep water, fatigue, etc (Nowak 2005.)
bulletIn 2000, there were 3,281 unintentional drownings in the United States, averaging nine people per day. This does not include drownings in boating-related incidents (Center for Disease Control 2003.)
bulletFor every child who drowns, three receive emergency department care for non-fatal submersion injuries. More than 40% of these children require hospitalization (Center for Disease Control 2003.) Nonfatal incidents can cause brain damage that result in long-term disabilities ranging from memory problems and learning disabilities to the permanent loss of basic functioning (i.e. permanent vegetative state.)
bullet19% of drowning deaths involving children occur in public pools with certified lifeguards present (Drowning Prevention Foundation.)
bulletAmong children ages 1 to 4 years, most drownings occur in residential swimming pools (Brenner et al. 2001.) Most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time (Present 1987.)
bulletA swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a child age 4 and under (Orange County California Fire Authority.)
bulletOf all preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning and 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less (Orange County California Fire Authority.)
bulletBoating carries risks for injury. In 2002, the U.S. Coast Guard received reports for 5,705 boating incidents; 4,062 participants were reported injured and 750 killed in boating incidents. Most boating fatalities from 2002 (70%) were caused by drowning and the remainder were due to trauma, hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning, or other causes. Open motor boats were involved in 41% of all reported incidents, and personal watercraft were involved in another 28% (United States Coast Guard 2002.)
bulletMany drowning victims never intended to go in the water in the first place. This can occur from slipping on a pool deck or falling out of a boat (Nowak 2005.)

References

Branche CM. What is happening with drowning rates in the United States? In: Fletemeyer JR and Freas SJ, editors. Drowning: New perspectives on intervention and prevention. Florida: CRC Press LLC; 1999.

Brenner RA, Trumble AC, Smith GS, Kessler EP, Overpeck MD. Where children drown, United States, 1995. Pediatrics 2001;108(1):859.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Online]. (2003). National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). [cited 2003 Dec 31]. Available from URL: www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars

Drowning Prevention Foundation

Nowak, F.M. (American Red Cross ER Certified and Open Water Lifeguard; United Sates Lifesaving Association Member.)

Orange County California Fire Authority

Present P. Child drowning study. A report on the epidemiology of drowning in residential pools to children under age five. Washington (DC): Consumer Product Safety Commission (US); 1987.

U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security (US). Boating Statistics [online]. 2002. [cited 2004 Feb 24]. Available from URL: http://www.uscgboating.org/statistics/accident_stats.htm.

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