Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the world today. This is despite the fact that it is also the most preventable. According to estimates by the World Health Organizations, more than 40 people lose their lives as a result of drowning every hour. This translates to over 300,000 deaths every year. This is more alarming considering that this data excludes intentional drowning and deaths caused by flood disasters and water transport accidents.
Sadly, drowning is largely neglected as a public health and safety concern in many jurisdictions. Evidence of this is the lack of broad awareness and prevention efforts that specifically target drowning accidents. Herein is a comprehensive account that illuminates this global problem and measures that can be implemented to prevent drowning accidents.
Contributing and Risk Factors
While drowning accidents can occur across all countries, population groups and ages, the incidences are disproportionately high in some select categories of the populace. The peak drowning rates are documented among young children, especially those under the age of 5. In many regions, children die more frequently from drowning than any other cause including diseases.
It is important to note that children’s vulnerability to drowning changes as they age. Children under 12 months can drown very quickly if unsupervised but are at relatively lower risk since they are relatively immobile. Those over 12 months but too young to recognize dangers especially if barriers are not present are at most risk.
This group generally makes up most of the drowning accidents, particularly in residential pools. For this reason, swimming pool experts recommend that parents and care. Male children are twice as likely to drown as female children.
Regional drowning rates are significantly higher in low and middle-income countries as compared to high-income countries. Those living around water bodies in particularly in rural settings have the least resources to implements safety measures and adapt to risks around them.
Although drowning can happen in many different ways, several key factors contribute to a large number of drowning accidents. These include lack of physical barriers between water bodies and the people, lack of adequate supervision of young children, lack of safe water crossing and unprotected water supplies and lack of water safety awareness.
How to Tackle Drowning Accidents
Drowning accidents can be combatted through targeted prevention strategies for different settings. There are four main ways of preventing drowning accidents; supervision, eliminating hazards, environmental measures, and education.
Parents and Caregivers should never leave their children alone in and around a pool. In addition, they should never be left under the care of another child. Constant adult supervision means a child should always be in the sights of a responsible adult.
Environmental measures include erecting fences and barriers around swimming pools. Eliminating hazards where possible is the best solution where erecting barriers may be ineffective. Containers, buckets, and baths should be left empty when not in use, especially around very young children.
Education includes creating awareness about the importance of water safety practices. Children should be taught basic swimming and water safety as early as possible. Deaths from drowning can be prevented if bystanders are trained on safe rescue and resuscitation.
Within the sheer number of deaths resulting from this global problem, more efforts need to be directed towards research prevention, policy making. Drowning needs as much targeted attention as other public health issues.