Water Safety and Unintentional Drowning

In Pittsburgh, summertime usually means that it is time to hop into the swimming pool or the wave pool. However, swim suit season also means a rise in the number of deaths caused by unintentional drowning.

Every day approximately ten people die from drowning in non-boating related incidents involving bathtubs, swimming pools, and natural water sources. Children are at the highest risk for accidental drowning. In fact, after motor vehicle accidents, drowning is the second highest cause of death in children ages 1 to 14. Children ages 1 to 4 are more likely to drown than older children because they are less likely to know how to swim. Young children are most susceptible to unintentional drowning in swimming pools. Additionally, for every child that dies from drowning, another five children are taken to the emergency room for nonfatal water accidents.

As age increases, so does the likelihood that a teen or adult will drown in a natural water source such as a lake or ocean. 70% of adolescent and adult drowning accidents also involve alcohol usage. Sun exposure can heighten the effects of alcohol.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers several tips to help prevent drowning accidents. First, taking swim lessons can drastically reduce the risk of a child between the ages 1 to 4 from drowning by more than 80%, but there still needs to be constant supervision of children that have had swim lessons. Administering CPR during the time it takes for emergency crews to arrive can save a drowning victim’s life. Finally, wearing proper life-vests can also decrease the chance of unintentional drowning.

Swimming in the summer is a great way for some outdoor entertainment and exercise when video games and television seem to be the first choice of children these days. But, it is important to know the facts about drowning and how to keep your kids safe in the water.

Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts”