Drowning Risk Factors

Drowning is a leading cause of death worldwide. While most drowning situations are unintentional and preventable, certain risk factors may increase the likelihood of drowning. Understanding drowning risk factors can help save lives and prevent near drowning injuries.

Drowning Risk Factors Demographics

There are two peak ages for drowning; children between the ages of one and four, and young adults between the ages of 15 and 25. The risk of drowning is higher for males than for females, especially at the peak ages. In the United States, Hispanic and African American children are three times more likely to drown than Caucasian children.

Location Drowning Risk Factors

People that have regular access to recreational water activities such as swimming or boating are at a higher risk for drowning. More children drown in swimming pools, while more adults and adolescents drown in natural bodies of water. Children living near bodies of water or swimming pools should be supervised at all times and taught very early on about water safety to mitigate risks.

Skills Set Drowning Risk Factors

Many people that drown or are involved in drowning accidents do not know how to swim, or lack sufficient ability to swim. Learning to swim or teaching children how to swim, especially those that live near water, can greatly decrease the risk of drowning. The level of swimming ability also decreases the risk of drowning as swimming skills improve.

Water Recreation

When boating or participating in water sports, lack of knowledge about operating the water craft or boat is a leading cause of accidents that may cause drowning or injuries. Those that wish to participate in water sports and activities should know how to swim and have at least a basic knowledge of how to operate the vehicle or equipment that is being used. Vehicle operators should have more advanced knowledge and know how to spot environmental dangers such as incoming storms.

Behavioral Drowning Risk Factors

Drinking alcohol or taking drugs while swimming, relaxing in a spa, boating, or participating in any other water related activity greatly increases the risk of drowning. This includes prescription medications that may impair physical or mental capacity. Overconfidence about swimming ability and taking unnecessary risks are behaviors that can also result in drowning.

Failure to Follow Safety Precautions

Failure to follow safety procedures can greatly increase the risk of drowning. Many of those that drown in boating and water sport accidents are not wearing life jackets. Failure to follow boating rules, swimming pool rules, or other safety advice also increases inherent drowning risk factors when participating in water activities.

 

 

Sources:

“Drowning.” World Health Organization. World Health Organization, n.d. Web. 24 Jan 2014. <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs347/en/>.

Liller, K.D., E.B. Kent, et al. “Risk Factors for Drowning and Near-Drowning Among Children in Hillsborough County, Florida.” PMC. 108(3).May (1993): 346-353. Web. 24 Jan. 2014. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1403386/>.

“Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30 May 2012. Web. 24 Jan 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/water-safety/waterinjuries-factsheet.html>.