Non-fatal Drowning

Are Non-fatal Drownings Noteworthy?

The public and many water safety advocates are aware of the risk of fatal drowning, especially for children under the age of four, males, and African Americans. However, while focusing on fatalities, the frequency and significance of non-fatal drownings is often overlooked. Non-fatal drownings are just as devastating as fatal drownings, if not more so.

According to a Canadian Study presented at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention, non-fatal drownings have been estimated to be anywhere from twice to fifty times more common than fatal drownings.

As many as one third of all drowning survivors have sustained significant neurological damage due to anoxic encephalopathy. As a result, non-fatal drownings not only contribute significantly to the pain and suffering of the victim and family of the victim, but the financial burden of treating non-fatal drowning victims is astronomical.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that a non-fatal drowning is a significant cause of injury, pain, suffering, and financial cost, there is notably less information on non-fatal drownings. Privacy issues are one reason for the lack of information on the total cost (mentally, physically, emotionally, financially) of drowning victims and their families. It is important to remember that although the annual fatal drowning figure hovers around 4,000; the number of non-fatal drownings is significantly greater than that.

When we speak of drowning prevention we should consider both fatal and non-fatal drownings to appreciate the full impact of these tragedies. Simply stated, drowning is the tragedy that keeps on giving.

Fortunately, drowning prevention is quite simple:

  • Swimming lessons early and often.
  • Life jackets for ALL non swimmers in ALL bodies of water.
  • Certified, qualified and vigilant lifeguards.
  • Vigilant and undistracted parents at pool side or in the water.

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