myriad of information and educational materials regarding beach & water
safety and open water rescue is available by clicking the
link to the website of the United States Lifesaving Association
Please contact any of our member agencies for educational
presentations regarding beach & water safety to groups
of any size.
Our member agencies collect beach & water
safety statistics annually, which are reported to the USLA
where they are available
for public information.
General Information On Drowning
Drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death in
the United States and the second leading cause of accidental
for persons aged 5 to 44. For children in the one to two
year age range, drowning is the leading cause of injury death.
some states, like California, Florida, and Hawaii, drowning
is the leading cause of injury death for persons under 15
years of age.
drowning is only the tip of the iceberg for aquatic injury.
It has been found that for every ten children who
die by drowning, 140 are treated in emergency rooms,
and 36 are
admitted for further treatment in hospitals. Some of these
Males drown at a significantly
higher rate than females (about 5 to 1). For boat related drownings,
the ratio escalates
to about 14 to 1.
Help Prevent Drowning
Swim Near A Lifeguard: USLA statistics over a ten year period
show that the chance of drowning at a beach without lifeguard
protection is almost five times as great as drowning at a beach
with lifeguards. USLA has calculated the chance that a person
will drown while attending a beach protected by USLA affiliated
lifeguards at 1 in 18 million (.0000055%).
Learn To Swim: Learning to
swim is the best defense against drowning. Teach children to
swim at an early age. Children
who are not
taught when they are very young tend to avoid swim instruction
as they age, probably due to embarrassment. Swimming
instruction is a crucial step to protecting children from
injury or death.
Never Swim Alone: Many drownings involve single
swimmers. When you swim with a buddy, if one of you has a problem,
may be able to help, including signaling for assistance
from others. At least have someone onshore watching you.
Fight the Current: USLA
has found that some 80% of rescues by USLA affiliated
lifeguards at ocean beaches are caused
by rip currents. These currents are formed by surf and
gravity, because once surf pushes water up the slope
of the beach, gravity
pulls it back. This can create concentrated rivers of
water moving offshore. Some people mistakenly call this
an undertow, but there
is no undercurrent, just an offshore current. If you
are caught in a rip current, don’t fight it by
trying to swim directly to shore. Instead, swim parallel
to shore until
you feel the
current relax, then swim to shore. Most rip currents
are narrow and a short swim parallel to shore will bring
Swim Sober: Alcohol is a major
factor in drowning. Alcohol can reduce body temperature and impair
Perhaps more importantly, both alcohol and drugs impair
which may cause people to take risks they would not otherwise
Leash Your Board: Surfboards
and bodyboards should be used only with a leash. Leashes are
to the board
ankle or wrist. They are available in most shops where
surfboards and bodyboards are sold or rented. With a
leash, the user will
not become separated from the floatation device. One
additional consideration is a breakaway leash. A few
drownings have been
attributed to leashes becoming entangled in underwater
obstructions. A breakaway leash avoids this problem.
Don’t Float Where You Can’t
often use floatation devices, like inflatable rafts,
to go offshore.
If they fall off, they can quickly drown. No one should
use a floatation device unless they are able to swim.
is not enough because a non-swimmer may panic and be
unable to swim back to the floatation device, even with a leash.
exception is a person wearing a Coast Guard approved
Life Jackets = Boating Safety: Some
80% of fatalities associated with boating accidents are from
Most involve people
who never expected to end up in the water, but fell overboard
or ended up in the water when the boat sank. Children
are particularly susceptible to this problem and Children
are particularly susceptible
to this problem and in many states, children are required
to be in lifejackets whenever they are aboard boats.
Don’t Dive Headfirst: Protect
Your Neck: Serious, lifelong injuries, including paraplegia,
occur every year due to diving
headfirst into unknown water and striking the bottom.
Bodysurfing can result in a serious neck injury when the swimmer’s
neck strikes the bottom. Check for depth and obstructions
before diving, then go in feet first the first time;
and use caution
while bodysurfing, always extending a hand ahead of you.
At Home, You’re
the Lifeguard: Drowning is the leading
cause of accidental death in many states for children
age one and two. A major reason for this is home pools, which
death traps for toddlers. Many of these deaths occur
in the few moments it takes a parent to answer a telephone
NEVER leave a child alone anywhere near a pool. Make
sure it is completely fenced, that the fence is locked, and
is no access from the home to the pool. Don’t let
your child or a neighbor’s child get into the pool