2015 Case Study Competition

The Health Issue: Drowning

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death for individuals of all ages, and it is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children between the ages of 1 and 14 years.1

Across the globe, 327,000 people die each year from drowning, and more than half of all deaths are among individuals younger than 25 years old ( p. 6).3

The unintentional drowning death rate (per 100,000) for males (2.07) is approximately four times higher than that for females (0.54).4 Among adults 29 years of age and under, the highest rate (per 100,000) of deaths due to unintentional drowning (all settings) was highest among American Indians/Alaskan Natives (2.57), followed by Blacks (1.90), and Hispanics (1.37) from the years 1999 to 2010.5

According to Laosee, Gilchrist, and Rudd (2012),the highest percentage of non-fatal drowning incidences occurred in a swimming pool (57.7%), followed by natural water settings such as a lakes and oceans (25.2%), bathtubs (9.2%), and unspecified settings (7.8%).4

However, the largest percentage of fatal unintentional drowning incidences occurred in natural water settings (51.1%), followed by unspecified settings (21.0%), swimming pools (17.6%), and bathtubs (10.4%).4

While children four years and younger are more likely to drown in a swimming pool or bathtub, individuals ages 15 and older are more likely to drown in a natural setting.4

The CDC reports the following factors can increase the risk of drowning:

  • Lack of swimming ability
  • Lack of close supervision Unfamiliarity with the location
  • Failure to wear life jackets (either while swimming, boating, or water skiing). Being unaware of rip currents
  • The use of alcohol
  • Being unaware of weather conditions

In addition, the World Health Organization (WHO) also indicated risk factors such as low socioeconomic status, being a member of a racial minority, lower education level, and being a tourist unfamiliar with local water risks and features.3

Of the drowning deaths occurring in natural water settings during 2005-2009, nine percent were attributed to boating accidents.4

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Presented in Portland, Oregon