What is drowning?

Drowning is the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion or immersion in liquid. Drowning is not always  fatal.

Fatal drowning happens when the drowning results in death.

Nonfatal drowning happens when a person survives a drowning incident. Nonfatal drowning has a range of outcomes, from no injuries to very serious injuries such as brain damage or permanent disability.

All of us can help prevent drowning

There is far more we can do to prevent drowning. Far too many people around the world know the pain of losing a loved one to drowning. World Health Organization’s Global report on drowning each year almost 360 000 people die from drowning – over 90% of them in low-and middle-income countries. More than half of these deaths are among those younger than 25, with children aged under 5 facing the greatest risk. Drowning is the third leading cause of death worldwide for those aged from 5 to 14. Despite these tragic facts, drowning prevention gets relatively little attention and few resources.

Certain factors make drowning more likely

Many adults and children report that they can’t swim or that they are weak swimmers. Participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children and young adults. In 2009, Dr. Ruth Brenner National Institute of Child Health and Development published a study stating that swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children ages 1 to 4 by 88%.
Proper pool fencing can prevent young children from gaining access to the pool area without caregivers’ awareness. A four-sided isolation fence which separates the pool area from the house and yard reduces a child’s risk of drowning by 83% compared to three-sided property-line fencing (which encloses the entire yard, but does not separate the pool from the house).
Drowning can happen quickly and quietly anywhere there is water, especially to unsupervised children. It happens in lakes and oceans, pools, bathtubs, and even buckets of water.
Life jackets can prevent drowning during water activities, especially boating and swimming.
Among adolescents and adults, alcohol use impairs balance, coordination, and judgment, and it increases risk-taking behaviour.
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You can prevent drowning

Formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning. Children who have had swimming lessons still need close and constant supervision when in or around water.
Construct and use a four-sided fence that is at least four feet in height and fully encloses the pool and separates it from the house.Remove all toys from the pool area that might attract children to the pool when the pool is not in use.
Designate a responsible adult to supervise closely and constantly when children are in or near water (including bathtubs). You can assign a specific adult to supervise each child when they have access to water. Adults watching kids in or near water should avoid distracting activities like reading, using the phone, and consuming alcohol or drugs, because drowning happens quickly and quietly. After swim time is over, shut and lock doors that give access to water. Be proactive and learn about any risks when visiting another home or unfamiliar location. Adults should supervise children closely even when lifeguards are present.
Life jackets reduce the risk of drowning while boating for people of all ages and swimming abilities. Life jackets should be used by children for all activities while in and around natural water. Life jackets can also be used by weaker swimmers of all ages in and around natural water and swimming pools. Do not rely on air-filled or foam toys, as these are not safety devices.
Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or other water activities. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance, and coordination.9 Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.
Always swim with a buddy. Choose swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible. The buddy system is especially beneficial for people with seizure disorders or other medical conditions that increase their risk of drowning.
Avoid swimming if you take medications that impair your balance, coordination, or judgement. These side effects increase the risk of drowning. Several medications can produce these side effects, such as those used for anxiety and other mental health conditions.