|This child is only pretending to be drowning. During a real drowning|
you would probably only see his hands.
For comparison purposes, the murder rate in Canada is a mere 1.45 for every 100,000 Canadians per year. Drowning kills 6.9 times more people than murderers do.
Want to know what the leading cause of drowning is?
Not knowing how to swim.
Globally, approx. 400,000 people die every year from drowning.
20% of all drownings are children and youth under the age of 14, largely because they don't know how to swim.
And even those people who are resuscitated using CPR don't necessarily go back to their normal lives. Over 50% of non-fatal drownings result in hospitalization due to nonfatal drowning injuries, some of which can lead to long term health problems such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (aka, permanent vegetative state).
Another big factor is gender: 80% of drowning victims are males. Male pride and a refusal to take seriously the risk of drowning leads many men to drown because they "think" they are strong swimmers, when in reality they are poor swimmers and have bitten off more than they can chew.
Impoverished minorities are also more likely to drown with numbers ranging from twice as likely to drown to five times more likely to drown, depending on the ethnic group. This is because they are also the least likely to have received swimming lessons. The numbers are largely tied to economic factors, as poor parents are the least likely to be able to afford swimming lessons for their children.
Having access to a local swimming pool, having access to swimming lessons, having the desire to learn how to swim, having access to water related sports and activities.
Ignoring age, gender, economic factors, etc, there are a number of key areas that cause drownings. They are the following:
#1. Lack of Swimming Ability - This includes no knowledge of how to swim or simply being a poor swimmer.
#2. Lack of Proper Fencing - Having a fence surrounding all sides of a pool lowers the chances of a child drowning in a pool by 83%, compared to a fence where only 3 sides of the pool have barriers preventing entry.
#3. Lack of Supervision - One of the biggest statistics for drownings is children under the age of 4 who are left unattended, sometimes in a bathtub, near a pool, river or lake. It can happen quickly, even with the presence of lifeguards.
#4. Location - Most drownings for children under the age of 14 happen in pools. Over the age of 15 and most drownings happen in wilderness areas such as rivers, lakes, oceans, etc.
#5. Boating Accidents + No Lifejacket - 72% of boating accident deaths are the result of drowning, with 88% of drowning victims wearing no lifejacket.
#6. Alcohol Consumption - This statistic skyrockets for teenagers and adults. 20% of boating accident deaths involve alcohol, and 70% of water recreation drownings also involve alcohol. Alcohol effects balance, coordination, and judgment, and the effects of alcohol are worsened by sun exposure and heat, making swimming and drinking exceptionally dangerous.
#7. Seizures and Narcolepsy - For people with a seizure disorder drowning is the leading cause of accidental death, which occurs most often in bathtubs. For people with narcolepsy falling asleep without warning can be very dangerous during many activities. Knowing how to swim won't help them during a seizure, but they should certainly consider switching to showers.
So how do we prevent people from drowning?
Well, for starters children should start swimming lessons from a young age. The rest is mostly common sense things: Pools should have proper fencing. All swimming and swimming lessons should be supervised, and young children should be supervised while taking baths. Always wear a lifejacket when boating. No alcohol before or during swimming. People with a history of seizures or narcolepsy should stick to showers and even consider wearing a lifejacket when swimming.
The key parts of this is swimming lessons + common sense. Think of getting swimming lessons like getting a vaccine against drowning. It isn't a guarantee that a person won't drown, as accidents can still occur, but the chances of a person drowning is significantly reduced if they know how to swim.
As someone who was raised with parents who had a pool, I didn't really have a choice. I had to take swimming lessons, my parents saw to that. I wasn't even allowed near the pool unsupervised until I had reached level Red at the local pool that provided swimming lessons. As I got older I even got into snorkeling, an activity I now find to be quite enjoyable and only enhances my love of swimming. To any parents reading this, I strongly recommend you do the same. Get your kids swimming lessons. Don't take chances with their lives.