Keeping a first aid kit or first aid kits by the swimming pool is not enough to protect people from the dangers of swimming. There are about 3,600 unintentional fatal drownings in the United States every year. That means that across the entire United States there are more than 10 deaths by drowning or drowning related causes every day. Of those drownings in the United States, more than one in four of those people were children younger than 14. More than four times that number had to be taken to the hospital for injuries related to swimming accidents. Even when people don’t die from drowning, they can receive serious long term brain damage including learning disabilities, memory issues, and permanent vegetative state.
Though there are a lot of deaths due to drowning in this country every year, there are factors that make someone more likely to drown. Identifying these risk factors can help us set up safety precautions to prevent deaths due to drowning in this country. Supervision is one of the most important things to ensure that children do not drown, as well as a lack of barriers preventing children from reaching water. The youngest children who drown usually drown in bathtubs, toilets, or buckets. Most toddler aged children who drown do so under the supervision within five minutes of being out of their sight. A barrier like fencing around the pool is the safest way to ensure that these supervised accidents do not occur. The older children and people get, the more likely they are to drown in natural water settings like lakes, rivers, ponds, or the ocean. Boating accidents are usually linked with drowning incidents, as improper or unlicensed use of water craft results in 3,500 boating accidents with injured boaters a year. Use of alcohol is one of the reasons for more than half of adult and adolescent deaths due to drowning and water related incidents, because alcohol influences coordination and balance as well as judgment. Seizures are the highest risk factor for drowning related incidents in bathtubs.
Preventing these injuries and deaths can be quite easy. Having a responsible adult designated to watch younger children, whether those children are in the swimming pool, in the bathtub, or around any body of water. Swimming with a swimming buddy can be safe for everyone no matter what age they are, or make sure there is a life guard on duty wherever you are swimming. Avoiding alcohol before or during water related activities like swimming, water skiing, or boating and avoiding consumption of alcohol consumption while supervising young children can prevent many deaths related to drowning or water. Learning to swim, as obvious as it seems, can be a lifesaver, but it is not recommended as a primary means for drowning prevention for younger children. Learning CPR can save people’s lives, because most people drown and die before paramedics reach the scene. Using floating toys instead of personal flotation devices is a bad idea because they are not designed to keep you safe on the water.