Jessamine County Coroner

Beware the Water

We have responded to two drowning deaths already this year in Jessamine County, and its not even summer yet.  While two deaths may not seem to be a high number of deaths, just imagine the grief and suffering the victims families have had to endure. 

While I don’t want to make an issue of statistics in this article, some perspective is necessary to expose the severity and risks associated with accidental drowning.  Every day in the United States, ten people drown, making it the fifth among leading causes of unintentional injury deaths.  Between 2005 and 2009, an average of 3533 fatal (non-boating related) drowning deaths occurred each year.  An additional average of 347 boat-related drowning deaths occurred as well.  One in five of these deaths occur in children under 14 years of age, and 80% of all drowning victims are male.

There are a number of common factors that play a role in drowning. 

  • Lack of swimming ability is the most relevant factor
  • Lack of barriers around water sources
  • Lack of close supervision for children
  • Failure to wear life jackets (in 2010) U.S. Coast Guard reported 672 deaths from boating incidents, and 72% of the victims were not wearing life jackets)
  • Alcohol (involved in up to 70% of water related deaths, alcohol affects balance, coordination and judgment)

Last year I wrote about drowning primarily in pools and supervised areas, with particular attention to younger children.  This year I want to emphasize the dangers of open water sources, specifically rivers and lakes. 

Water activities in rivers, lakes, ponds and streams are more diverse than just swimming, but the same caution and common sense should be exercised regardless of the activity or the size and depth of the body of water.  As great as it may be on a hot spring or summer day to enjoy the cool refreshing water; following these tips just may help prevent a good time from turning into a tragedy:

  • Learn to swim!  Don’t even enter water deeper than your knees until then
  • Learn CPR!
  • Use the Buddy System and never swim alone!
  • Avoid Alcohol! It may mix well in alcoholic drinks, but not when swimming
  • Don’t ever be tempted to give in to peer pressure
  • Don’t be overconfident of your swimming ability
  • Don’t try to prove something to yourself or friends
  • Don’t underestimate the strength and energy required to swim a long distance or in flowing water
  • Remember distance across a body of water is usually much longer than it appears from land
  • Don’t ever enter fast-moving or unfamiliar water, even in a vehicle or on an animal (18 inches of fast flowing water can move or cause a car to upset
  • Know as much as possible about the area (how deep, how wide and location of submerged obstacles)
  • Never swim in open water at night
  • Remember, you are on your own! Don’t rely on friends to be able to save you because they usually are physically unable (drowning rescue is extremely difficult, even for experienced life guards in open water)
  • Always expect the unexpected
Website Builder