Boating accidents and drowning risk high among young adults

All across the country, state and city officials are reducing the number of lifeguards at pools and open water sites. A recent spate of drowning deaths and boating accidents has called this cost-saving measure into question. Without an increase in public awareness and safety measures, the number of swimming and boating accidents will likely rise.

According to the United States Life Saving Association, the chances of drowning at a beach with one of their lifeguards on duty are approximately 1 in 18 million. In 2010 alone, 134 drowning deaths occurred on unguarded beaches that the USLA would serve. Individuals and state officials may not recognize the dangers posed by open water. Teens and young adults, in particular, are at risk in natural water environments, accounting for the highest rates of drowning deaths when swimming pools are excluded.

Properly trained and attentive lifeguards can prevent many tragedies from occurring. While everyone is responsible for doing their part to uphold water safety, accidents will always be a risk. Children and adults alike should be aware of their surroundings and make smart choices before entering the water or getting on a boat.

Drowning deaths account for 75 percent of all boating accident fatalities. Boat and jet ski operators can put themselves and others in danger by not wearing life jackets, by drinking alcohol while operating their watercraft, and by not obeying the safety rules that govern the use of watercraft on open water. Beachgoers and boating enthusiasts have a right to enjoy a safe and fun time. When a few negligent individuals refuse to obey the rules, they put everyone at risk.

Source: Cision Wire, “Teens, young adults at highest risk for open water drowning,” Bev Payton, 2 July 2011.