Water Safe­ty

Spring has sprung and many of us watch the ther­mo­stat climb with great antic­i­pa­tion of after­noons by the pool or on the beach.   Lis­ten­ing to the radio the oth­er day it was revealed that drown­ing is the 2nd lead­ing cause of acci­den­tal death among kids, 6th lead­ing cause of acci­den­tal death among adults in North Amer­i­ca.  More than one in five peo­ple who die from drown­ing are chil­dren 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drown­ing anoth­er 4 received emer­gency depart­ment care for non fatal sub­mer­sion injuries. These sta­tis­tics are stag­ger­ing.  Per­haps what makes this even more tragic…is that many of these deaths are pre­ventable.

Who is most at risk?

Males: near­ly 80% of peo­ple who die from drown­ing are Male.

Chil­dren:  ages 1 to 4 have the high­est drown­ing rates. In 2007, among chil­dren 1 to 4 years old who died from an unin­ten­tion­al injury, almost 30% died from drown­ing.  Fatal drown­ing remains the sec­ond-lead­ing cause of unin­ten­tion­al injury-relat­ed death for chil­dren ages 1 to 14 years

Minori­ties:  Fatal unin­ten­tion­al drown­ing rate for minori­ties is gen­er­al­ly high­er, any­where from 1.3 to 3.1 times high­er than among non minori­ties.

Influ­enc­ing fac­tors?

Lack of Super­vi­sion and bar­ri­ers: Super­vi­sion by a life­guard or des­ig­nat­ed water watch­er is impor­tant to pro­tect chil­dren when they are in the water, whether a pool or bath­tub. But when chil­dren are not sup­posed to be in the water, super­vi­sion alone isn’t enough to keep them safe. Bar­ri­ers such as pool fenc­ing should be used to help pre­vent young chil­dren from gain­ing access to the pool area with­out care­givers’ awareness.5 There is an 83% reduc­tion in the risk of child­hood drown­ing with a four-sided iso­la­tion pool fence, com­pared to three-sided prop­er­ty-line fenc­ing

Among chil­dren ages 1 to 4 years, most drown­ings occur in res­i­den­tial swim­ming pools. 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.

Nat­ur­al Water Set­tings (such as lakes, rivers, or the ocean):  The per­cent of drown­ings in nat­ur­al water set­tings increas­es with age.  65% of drown­ings among those 15 years and old­er occurred in nat­ur­al water set­tings.

Lack of Life Jack­et Use in Recre­ation­al Boat­ing:  Among those who drowned, 9 out of 10 were not wear­ing life jack­ets.  Most boat­ing fatal­i­ties that occurred dur­ing 2008 (72%) were caused by drown­ing with 90% of vic­tims not wear­ing life jack­ets; the remain­der were due to trau­ma, hypother­mia, car­bon monox­ide poi­son­ing, or oth­er caus­es

Alco­hol Use:  Alco­hol use is involved in up to half of ado­les­cent and adult deaths asso­ci­at­ed with water recre­ation and about one in five report­ed boat­ing fatal­i­ties.  Alco­hol influ­ences bal­ance, coor­di­na­tion, and judg­ment, and its effects are height­ened by sun expo­sure and heat.


How do we pre­vent a loved one becom­ing a sta­tis­tic?  The influ­enc­ing fac­tors tell us what to do and what not to do.   Learn­ing to swim is para­mount.  Par­tic­i­pa­tion in for­mal swim­ming lessons can reduce the risk of drown­ing by 88% among chil­dren aged 1 to 4 years.  Avoid and mod­er­ate alco­hol use near water, wear life­jack­ets, super­vise kids at all times, and install bar­ri­ers to dan­ger areas.

We are for­tu­nate to live in a coun­try where swim­ma­ble water is read­i­ly avail­able.  Using it respon­si­bly can bring great joy and health to every­one.

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Allan Baum
Security Industry veteran with over 30+ years in the industry. Founded family owned and operated Protection Plus in 1994 with his wife and has overseen its growth since. In addition to working with his wife and son, Allan has assigned the role of Chief Canine Officer to his trusted dog Waub, who joins him at the office every day.