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World Drowning Prevention Day

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Preventing drowning

Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, claiming the lives of over 236,000 people each year.

Drowning occurs when a person’s airway is submerged in water, leading to respiratory impairment. It’s essential to understand that drowning is not limited to swimmers or people at beaches; it can happen in bathtubs, buckets, ponds, rivers, and even small puddles. Children are particularly vulnerable to drowning, and it is a leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 4 years old.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 90% of drowning incidents occur in low- and middle-income countries. These tragedies disproportionately affect vulnerable communities with limited access to water safety education, proper supervision, and adequate rescue resources. The problem is particularly acute in regions with high populations living near bodies of water, where drowning incidents often go underreported and unaddressed.

World Drowning Prevention Day, observed annually on July 25th, aims to shed light on this preventable tragedy and mobilize efforts to reduce the number of drownings worldwide. The day was first proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2021, and organizations and individuals around the world now celebrate it. This International Day focuses on raising awareness and promoting measures to safeguard lives against the dangers of drowning.

What are the global reports on drowning?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a number of reports on drowning, including the following:

Global Report on Drowning: Preventing a Leading Cause of Death (2014)
Drowning: A Global Overview (2018)
Drowning: The Facts (2021)

These reports provide a comprehensive overview of drowning, including its causes, prevention, and impact on global health. They also highlight the need for urgent action to prevent drowning, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

Causes of Drowning

Various factors contribute to drowning incidents, including lack of swimming skills, alcohol consumption, insufficient fencing around pools, being swept away by currents, medical conditions, and the absence of lifeguards at beaches. Addressing these risk factors is vital to preventing drownings and saving lives.

The root causes of drowning also require targeted action. For example, public awareness campaigns can educate people about the dangers of swimming under the influence of alcohol and the importance of swimming lessons for both children and adults. Addressing these risk factors is vital to preventing drownings and saving lives

How can drowning be prevented?

Drowning prevention strategies have two facets: individual measures and external support. On an individual level, it’s essential for people to be educated about water safety by learning how to swim from a young age, avoiding swimming in dangerous conditions, etc. Parents and caregivers play a crucial role in supervising children around water to prevent accidents.

On a larger scale, governments, non-governmental organizations, and international bodies need to come together to implement water safety programs, enforce regulations for safe swimming areas, and improve rescue and emergency response capabilities. Additionally, providing access to life-saving equipment such as life jackets can significantly reduce the risk of drowning.

Signs of a Drowning person
Drowning often happens quickly and silently, making it challenging to recognize the signs before it’s too late. Signs shown by a person in distress in the water may include gasping for breath, flailing arms, struggling to stay afloat, confusion, loss of consciousness, and a vertical body position.

Knowing how to identify these signs and providing immediate assistance can make a life-saving difference.

If you see someone drowning, it is important to act quickly. Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If you are able to, try to reach the person and help them out of the water.

World Drowning Prevention Day is a chance to raise awareness of this important issue and to take action to prevent drowning. By working together, we can save lives.

Here are some additional resources for learning more about drowning prevention:

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drowning
National Drowning Prevention Alliance: https://www.ndpa.org/
United States Lifesaving Association: https://www.usla.org/

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