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Drowning related injuries and deaths – July 13, 2011

Every year as temperatures tend to spike up in the middle of summer, people take to the water for relief. The recent incidents of drowning related deaths in both Missouri and Illinois remind us of certain precautions we can take to avoid these tragic events.


Just this past week, two individuals drowned in Missouri waterways, one at Lake Sherwood in Warren County and another while wading in the Meramec River. On the Illinois side, two individuals drowned recently in separate incidents in the Sandusky Beach area of Rend Lake.


The Missouri deaths bring the 2011 yearly total to 15 drownings and 9 boating fatalities according to the Missouri Water Patrol. According to the latest statistics from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC), there were 3,443 fatal unintentional drownings in 2007, the last year in which data is available. An additional 496 deaths were attributed to drownings from boat related accidents.  It should also be noted that non fatal drownings can cause brain damage that could result in long term disabilities such as memory difficulties, learning disabilities, or permanent vegetative state or loss of basic brain functioning.


The NCIPC notes that the factors common to drowning risk include: 1. The lack of supervision or barriers.  Just this past June a 3 year old boy fell into a backyard pool in Westwood and drowned during a Father’s day gathering, according to Mercy Children’s Hospital personnel. 2. Natural water settings particularly those with no lifeguards available.  3. Failure to wear life jackets while engaged in recreational boating. 90% of drowning victims in boating accidents did not have on a life jacket. 4. Alcohol use and 5. Seizure Disorders.


Suggestions to prevent water-related injuries or deaths include the following:

Supervision when in or around water. This is particularly true with young children and non swimmers.  You should be within reach of preschool children and avoid any distracting activities.
Use the “Buddy System” at all times.
Take extra care and supervision when anyone in your group has a seizure disorder.
Learn to swim and teach your children to swim.
Learn CPR.
Do not use air filled or foam toys in place of lifejackets.
Finally, avoid alcohol.

As summer is heating up, remember that a day of cool relaxation could end up in tragedy. Have fun but stay safe.


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