Water Safety – Introduction

Water Safety – more than 4,000 people drown in the United States each year, and as many as 12,000 experience near-drowning (also called submersion injury).

The hypoxia (lack of oxygen) that occurs with submersion results in residual complications in about 40 percent of people who are revived, ranging from mild memory impairment and disturbances of cognitive function to persistent vegetative state. Virtually all water accidents are preventable.

The common scenarios for water-related injuries correlate with age:

  • Children under age 1 year are most likely to drown in toilets, bathtubs, and buckets or other containers of water.
  • Children between the ages of 1 and 4 years are most likely to drown in residential swimming pools.
  • Young people between the ages of 15 and 19 are most likely to drown in lakes and rivers, and alcohol consumption contributes up to half of their water-related injuries and deaths.
  • Boating accidents are the most common cause of submersion injuries among adults. Alcohol consumption is a factor in nearly half of such accidents.
  • Among adolescents and adults, diving into shallow water accounts for numerous head and spinal cord injuries.

Three of four people who drown are adults. Even capable swimmers can experience exhaustion, muscle cramps, and other challenges. Many people who die in boating accidents are not wearing personal flotation devices (PFDs) or lack other water safety devices that could have prevented their deaths.

Alcohol consumption and swimming or boating factors in about 40 percent of waterrelated injuries among adolescents and adults.

Key Measures for Preventing Drowning

  • Learn to swim.
  • Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (cpr).
  • Wear or use appropriate flotation devices when engaged in water activities such as boating.
  • Closely supervise children in and near water, including pools, lakes, and rivers.
  • Do not drink alcohol when participating in activities on or in the water.


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