CULLMAN, Ala. – According to the World Health Organization (WHO), drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide. Over 230,000 people on average die each year by drowning, though the WHO states that this number could be vastly underestimated. May is National Water Safety Month, and with many public pools and water parks opening on Memorial Day, it is important to be aware of some basic safety tips to prevent injury or death in the water.
Dianne Evans, aquatics director at the Cullman Wellness and Aquatics Center, offered a list of general things to keep in mind for people before diving in:
- Always read the rules posted at any pool
- Respect the water
- Always supervise children near water
- Never swim alone
- Always wear a lifejacket while out in a boat
- Never dive headfirst in the water if you cannot see the bottom
Offering a few more words, Evans said, “You are never too old to take swimming lessons, and you should always know your limits before it’s too late. Don’t push yourself too far. And again, always read the pool rules. They’re posted to prevent accidents, but they only work if people follow them.”
The WHO offers several methods to prevent fatal and non-fatal drowning on its website. “Installing barriers (e.g. covering wells, using doorway barriers and playpens, fencing swimming pools etc.) to control access to water hazards, or removing water hazards entirely, greatly reduces water hazard exposure and risk. Community-based, supervised childcare for pre-school children can reduce drowning risk and has other proven health benefits. Teaching school-age children basic swimming, water safety and safe rescue skills is another approach. But these efforts must be undertaken with an emphasis on safety, and an overall risk management that includes a safety-tested curricula, a safe training area, screening and student selection, and student-instructor ratios established for safety.” A more detailed report on drowning prevention can be found on the WHO newsroom page about drowning (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/drowning).
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