While drowning is more common for children 5 and younger, it’s the second leading cause of death for people age 5-24. According to NSC data, 710 people age 5 to 24 drowned in 2013. Not including boating incidents, on average about 10 people die from drowning every day in the United States, according to Injury Facts 2016, the annual statistical report on unintentional injuries produced by NSC.
Swimming Safety Tips
- Don’t go in the water unless you know how to swim
- Never swim alone
- Learn CPR and rescue techniques
- Make sure the body of water matches your skill level; swimming in a pool is much different than swimming in a lake or river, where more strength is needed to handle currents
- If you do get caught in a current, don’t try to fight it; stay calm and float with it, or swim parallel to the shore until you can swim free
- Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard
- Don’t push or jump on others
- Don’t dive in unfamiliar areas
- Never drink alcohol when swimming; alcohol is involved in about half of all male teen drownings.
Recreational Boating Safety Tips
Most boating experiences are positive – the stuff memories are made of. But the most joyful times quickly can turn deadly if boaters are not vigilant about safety – at all times. One of three things usually happens when a good day on the water turns tragic, according to the U.S. Coast Guard:
- A passenger falls overboard
- A boat capsizes
- A boat collides with another boat or object
In 2014, the Coast Guard counted 4,064 boating incidents that involved 610 deaths, 2,678 injuries and about $39 million of damage to property. The U.S. Coast Guard reports 78% of boating deaths in 2014 were due to drowning, and 84% of the victims were not wearing a life jacket. The good news is, comfortable – and stylish – Coast Guard-approved life jackets are widely available.
- Learn how to get up out of the water and how to safely use the tow rope
- Always have a spotter in the boat, and go over basic hand signals
- Be sure the boat operator is licensed and experienced with the boat and the body of water
- Only water ski and wakeboard during the day time
- Always wear a life jacket
Coast Guard data shows 34 people were killed and 592 injured using personal watercraft in 2014, ranking second behind motorboat injuries and deaths (1,672). Canoe and kayak incidents were listed fourth, at 256. Discover Boating published a list of 10 tips for safety in boating and water sports, including
- Don’t swim or go diving alone
- Supervise children at all times
- Let people know where you are going
- Follow the rules of the lake, river or sea
Learn More and Reduce Risks
In 2014, Coast Guard data indicates 77% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had no boating safety instruction. By comparison, 12% of deaths occurred where the operator had received a nationally approved boating safety education certificate.
To further reduce risk, the Coast Guard offers these tips:
- Don’t drink: Alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination
- Take a safety course: 7 out of 10 boating incidents are caused by operator error
- Get a free vessel safety check; contact a local volunteer
- Know about carbon monoxide; this odorless, colorless poisonous gas is emitted by all combustion engines and onboard motor generators
The extra effort that goes into making these kinds of precautions will help create fun-filled adventures for you and your family on the water.
Resources: The National Safe Boating Council promotes safer recreational boating through education, outreach and training.