Drowning an Epidemic

Each year, nearly 6,000 people drown in the United States. Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental deaths for people 15 to 44 years of age. What is really surprising is that two-thirds of the people who drown never had an intention of being in the water!

The four major causes of drowning are not wearing a life jacket, abuse of alcohol, lack of sufficient swimming skills and hypothermia.

Below are some tips to help you have a safe experience around water.

  • ¬†Learn how to swim and perform a basic survival float.
  • Don't take chances by overestimating your swimming skills.
  • Swim in designated swimming areas.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Never leave a child alone near water. Kids don't drown only in pools or at the beach. Bathtubs, buckets, toilets and hot tubs present drowning dangers as well.
  • Never rely on toys such as inner tubes and water wings to stay afloat. They can't replace life jackets.
  • Never dive in unknown or shallow waters. Every year, diving accidents result in more than 8,000 people suffering paralyzing spinal cord injuries, and another 5,000 dying before they reach the hospital.
  • Don't underestimate the power of water. Even rivers and lakes can have undertows.
  • Learn CPR.
  • Know your boat, and know the rules of the road. Take a safe boating course (free through many base outdoor recreation programs).
  • Check your boat for all required safety equipment.
  • Don't overload the boat.
  • Wear your life jacket -- don't just carry one on board.
  • Leave alcohol behind. More than half of all the people who drown each year had consumed alcohol prior to their accident.
  • Check the weather forecast.
  • Always have a first-aid kit and emergency phone contacts handy.
-- National Water Safety Program