From the moment children are born, parents often become aware of all the dangers that appear as they grow and become curious. Although most of these dangers are part of life, drowning is silent, quick, and can be fatal. According to the CDC, for every 1 fatal childhood drowning, there are another 8 nonfatal drownings that are seen in an emergency department. Thankfully, with the proper water safety strategies and advocacy, drowning is easily preventable. 

Along with our collective efforts, many pediatricians are now prioritizing drowning prevention initiatives beyond their offices. With the support of the NDPA’s Chief Medical Advisor and AAP (the American Academy of Pediatrics) president-elect Dr. Benjamin Hoffman and fellow NDPA medical advisor, Dr. Julie Gilchrist, we wanted to make water safety easily accessible to other pediatricians and medical advisors. 

To address the ever-present need to advocate for water safety beyond just their practices, NDPA has created an exclusive toolkit for pediatricians with the proper drowning prevention strategies  needed to share and advocate for water safety practices with their patients and parents.

Why Should Pediatricians Become Water Safety Champions?

Pediatricians are critical leaders in their field when it comes to child safety. They often see children for a large portion of their life and learn first-hand what concerns parents have for their children. By having a strong relationship with their patients and parents, pediatricians can uniquely position themselves as water safety advocates to address concerns about water-related injury incidents and drowning risks. 

By learning, advocating, and implementing the Layers of Protection, pediatricians can show parents that they care about more than just providing healthcare to their children, giving them the peace of mind that their children will be safe beyond office hours.

When Pediatricians Become A Water Safety Champion: 

After sign-up, pediatricians will receive exclusive access to NDPA’s Pediatrician Toolkit which includes: 

  • A personal Water Safety Champion Certificate showcasing their advocacy for water safety
  • Printable Water Watcher Cards
  • Awareness Posters to hang in offices
  • The Layers of Protection Digital Brochure
  • Shareable social media posts & videos
  • GIFs & Stickers

As Dr. Ben Hoffman states, “Kids need us. They can’t vote, so they need advocates. Pediatricians, by nature, are advocates by the work we can do, not only at the community level but the policy level to help systems change.” 

Drowning is a preventable tragedy, but it takes all of us to learn and advocate for the latest knowledge and standards for water safety. 

By implementing the Layers of Protection and their Water Safety Champion Status, pediatricians can help protect the lives of children and work together to spread the word about drowning prevention and water safety to their patients and parents.  

Pediatricians, it’s time to support your patients beyond the office by becoming a Water Safety Champion!

Commercial Aquatics Professionals and their facilities are in a unique position to advocate for water safety. With their experience in working with children and families in both educational and recreational settings, they can quickly deliver essential messages about water safety to populations of all ages and ability levels. 

We recognize the enormous work that goes into running and maintaining a commercial aquatic facility. It’s essential to make communicating critical water safety messages easy, which is why we launched the Water Safety Champion Program, which includes all the latest in drowning prevention information, free downloadable facility tools, and resources. 

What is a Water Safety Champion?

Despite our collective and tireless efforts, drowning is the single leading cause of death for children ages 1-4. While young children are at the highest risk, anyone can drown.  

To address the rise in drowning incidents, we have launched a Water Safety Champion Program providing the latest resources and education about the best water safety practices available to help prevent unintentional drowning and aquatic injuries. The water safety information covered in the 5 Layers of Protection resulted from years of research and collaboration with Alliance Partners and advisors.

Why Should Commercial Aquatics Professionals Become Water Safety Champions?

Although most drownings don’t happen at commercial aquatic facilities, they are still critical to bringing awareness to water safety in their communities and clients. Drownings can still happen anywhere in or near water, including pools, bathtubs, lakes, rivers – even buckets of water. 

By learning about the best water safety strategies through the Layers of Protection, and the Water Safety Champion program, commercial aquatics professionals can show patrons they care while playing a vital role in keeping their community safe in and around water. 

When Commercial Aquatics Professionals Become Water Safety Champions: 

After sign-up, commercial aquatics professionals will receive exclusive access to NDPA’s Commercial Aquatics Toolkit which includes: 

  • A personal Water Safety Champion Certificate showcasing their advocacy for water safety
  • A Water Safety Champion Facility Poster to display in their aquatic facility 
  • Various tools and resources like:
    • Awareness Posters
    • Printable Water Watcher Cards
    • GIFs & Stickers
    • The Layers of Protection Digital Brochure & Animated Video
    • Shareable Social Media Posts & Videos

By implementing the Layers of Protection and sharing their Water Safety Champion Status, commercial aquatics facilities can help protect the lives of children and work together to spread the word about drowning prevention and water safety to their patrons.  

While many commercial aquatic facilities face challenging times due to COVID-19, staffing shortages, and new regulations, we hope this program will support their continued efforts in drowning prevention and water safety! 

Commercial Aquatics Professionals, Become a Water Safety Champion Today!

As folks began to gather at the inaugural NDPA Research Summit in September there was an air of excitement knowing that collaboration to address research needs around the layers of protection will undoubtedly begin to reveal the most effective strategies for water safety and drowning prevention. While there were many familiar faces in the room, there were several I did not know. In particular was a mother who had suffered great loss and whose child’s story was critical to the conversation that day. As I introduced myself to this brave woman, she expressed concern that she did not have the right credentials to be in the room. Her humility touched me as there was no one more deserving of inclusion that day than this mother. She, more than anyone, knows that there is more work to be done.

We live in a world of immense beauty and deep pain, and sometimes it can be a challenge to be hopeful, but we must.  In order to achieve our highest possibilities as a community, and as people who love one another we should take a moment to examine ourselves and truly continue the important work that we do every day.  Our work is that light that shines in the darkness.  Our work is what brings comfort to so many.  We can be the example of what is possible; people who do not shy away from the hard conversations, or the hard work.   
 
Read the NDPA DEI Statement here.

NDPA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Statement

Like many of you, we at NDPA are keenly aware of systemic inequities that disproportionately burden many members of our society and this concerns us.  It concerns us to think that we continue to grapple with a justice system that doesn’t always get it right It concerns us that many communities at risk for drowning (African Americans, Alaskan Natives, individuals with cognitive disabilities, and others) lack access to basic life skills that would help to protect them in water.  It concerns us that it is so difficult to even agree that we all should be working toward an anti-racist society.  
  
We live in a world of immense beauty and deep pain, and sometimes it can be a challenge to be hopeful, but we must.  In order to achieve our highest possibilities as a community, and as people who love one another we should take a moment to examine ourselves and truly continue the important work that we do every day.  Our work is that light that shines in the darkness.  Our work is what brings comfort to so many.  We can be the example of what is possible; people who do not shy away from the hard conversations, or the hard work.

To begin this hard work, NDPA strives to provide informed, authentic leadership for cultural equity by:

  • seeing diversity, inclusion, and equity as connected to our mission and critical to ensuring the well-being of our staff and the communities we serve. 
  • acknowledging and dismantling any inequities within our policies, systems, programs, and services and continually update and report organization progress.
  • exploring potential underlying, unquestioned assumptions that interfere with inclusiveness. 
  • advocating for and supporting board‐level thinking about how systemic inequities impact our organization’s work and how best to address that in a way that is consistent with our mission.
  • challenging assumptions about what constitutes strong leadership at our organization and who is well positioned to provide leadership. 
  • practicing and encouraging transparent communication in all interactions. 
  • committing time and resources to expand more diverse leadership within our board, staff, committees, and advisory bodies. 
  • leading with respect and tolerance, and we expect all employees and volunteers to embrace this notion and to express it in workplace interactions and through everyday practices.

NDPA abides by the following action items to help promote diversity and inclusion in our workplace:

  • pursue cultural competency throughout our organization by creating substantive learning opportunities and formal, transparent policies.
  • conduct or identify research related to equity to make incremental, measurable progress toward the visibility of our diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts and make that information publicly available. 
  • improve our cultural leadership pipeline by creating and supporting programs and policies that foster leadership that reflects the diversity of American society. 
  • pool resources and expand offerings for underrepresented constituents by connecting with other organizations committed to diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • develop and present sessions on diversity, inclusion, and equity to provide information and resources internally and to the community. 
  • develop a system for being more intentional and conscious of bias during the hiring, promoting, or evaluating process.   
  • include a salary range with all public job descriptions.
  • advocate for public and private‐sector policy that promotes diversity, inclusion, and equity and challenge systems and policies that create inequity, oppression, and disparity.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of 1 and 4. Most of these drowning deaths happen in home swimming pools which is why swimming pool barriers are so important in preventing unintentional drowning incidents.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has also shared the following statistics in the Pool or Spa Submersion: Estimated Nonfatal Drowning Injuries and Reported Drownings, 2022 Report :

  • On average, three hundred eighty-nine pool- or spa-related fatal drownings were registered between 2017 to 2019.
  • Seventy-five percent of fatal pool accidents of children 15 and under occurred at residential locations (home pool or neighbor’s pool).
  • Seventy-three percent of swimming pool drowning deaths involved children younger than five.
  • Seventeen percent of swimming pool-related drowning deaths among children younger than 15 happened in an above-ground pool.
  • Nine percent of those pediatric drowning deaths occurred in portable pools.
  • Pool- or spa-related, hospital-department-treated, nonfatal drowning injuries involving children younger than 15 years of age spiked 17 percent in 2021 with 6,800 injuries reported, compared to 2020 with 5,800.

Many of these drowning tragedies can be prevented by implementing swimming pool barriers and additional layers of protection

What are swimming pool barriers?

If you have a swimming pool on your property, you must take measures to keep your kids safe. The first measure is installing proper swimming pool barriers.

A swimming pool barrier is any physical barrier that separates the water from the rest of the yard or surrounding area, thus making it difficult for small children and animals to access the pool area. 

These physical barriers are an effective way to prevent unauthorized and unsupervised entry to the water.

Types of Swimming Pool Barriers

Swimming pool barriers can restrict access to the perimeter surrounding the pool (gate or fence) or directly limit access to the water (pool covers). Door alarms can also be considered as swimming pool barriers.

Pool Gates and Fences

All residential pools and spas should be surrounded on all four sides by a 4-foot tall fence with a self-closing and self-latching locking device. 

Families with young children and pets should install isolation fencing that separates the pool or spa area from the house or other structures. It should also restrict unauthorized access from neighbors’ yards, nearby buildings, and from inside the house. 

The latch release on all gates and fences should be at least 54 inches from the ground and entirely out of the reach of children. If a locking latch is used, it should be kept locked. Just be sure to store the key out of children’s reach and ensure all adults know where you keep it in an emergency. 

Gates should also open away from the pool and should never be propped open. When shut, pool owners must double-check the gates to confirm that the latching mechanism is securely fastened and that the gate was not accidentally left open. The pool gate should always be locked, mainly when the pool is not in use, to prevent kids from gaining access to the water.

Bear in mind that small children are curious and resourceful. Make sure any furniture that can be moved to serve as a ladder is kept outside the pool area, at least 4 feet away from the swimming pool barrier. Also, ensure that children and animals cannot dig soil loose from under the pool fence to crawl through to the other side.

Pool Covers

Safety covers are another layer of protection that can provide safety when the pool is not in use. They should cover the entire surface of the pool and be anchored securely.

When considering a pool safety cover, choose one that meets the ASTM International voluntary standard F1346-91 , a document that establishes safety cover requirements for swimming pools, spas, hot tubs, and wading pools. 

It’s also essential that covers are used and maintained correctly, such as promptly removing any rainwater that it has collected and not allowing children to play on it regardless of its stated weight allowance.

Door Alarms

If your home serves as one side of the swimming pool barrier, consider installing alarms on all doors leading to the pool area. 

Door alarms can help alert adults if and when a child goes near the pool area.

Safety Codes and Regulations for Pool Barriers

Sadly, no federal swimming pool barriers law exists in the United States. Without a legal framework that clearly defines residential pool owners’ guidelines to ensure safety, consumer and aquatic organizations have redacted and shared their own. 

Many communities have enacted safety regulations for barriers meant to keep residential in-ground and above-ground swimming pools safe. Parents who own these pools must implement the five layers of protection needed to reduce the chances of their kiddos accessing the family pool or spa without supervision and should be familiar with the following documents:

Safety Barrier Guidelines for Residential Pools

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has published a guide that outlines pool barrier guidelines that can help prevent drowning incidents involving young children by preventing them from entering the pool area without being supervised by an adult. They consider the variety of swimming pool barriers available and where each might be vulnerable to a child wanting to get on the other side.

The International Swimming Pool and Spa Code 

The ISPSC is also an important document to consider.  Written by the International Code Council and the Pool and Hot tub Alliance, it contains everything a pool contractor needs to make a residential swimming pool safe and operate efficiently. 

The adoption of the ISPSC can reduce drowning accidents by requiring barriers, compliant design, and slopes for entry and exit, work towards the elimination of entrapment incidents once and for all, and ensure that pools and spas are built using approved and safe materials. As a uniform building code adopted in 20 states and 171 local jurisdictions, the ISPSC plays a vital role in safeguarding backyard pools and spas throughout the country.

The Safety Benefits of Pool Fencing and Gates

A successful pool barrier prevents a child from getting over, under, and through a fence or gate. It also keeps kids from gaining access to the pool except when supervising adults are present. 

Regarding water safety, there is no such thing as being too cautious. A pool barrier is the first layer of protection needed to prevent accidental drownings. According to the CDC, having a swimming pool security fence reduces the likelihood of childhood drownings by 83%.

In addition to keeping kids and animals out, swimming pool barriers can also help keep debris and leaves from blowing into the pool. This can help keep the pool clean and reduce the time you must spend cleaning it.

Installing a swimming pool barrier is a simple and effective way to increase water safety in your backyard. Consider implementing safety measures at home for your family and reduce the chance of drowning.

Drowning is a preventable tragedy.  Every year, thousands of people die from drowning, and many more suffer from permanent disability as a result. The Drowning Prevention Symposium is an annual event hosted by the National Drowning Prevention Alliance that gathers experts to share the latest water safety data and research with the common goal of reducing the number of drowning incidents in the country.  

This year’s symposium will be held on October 13th & 14th at the 2022 World Aquatic Health Conference in Houston, TX.  Attendees will have the opportunity to learn from the leading experts in the field and network with other professionals working to prevent drownings at both events if attending in person. You can also register to participate in the symposium virtually from the comfort of your home or office.

The Drowning Prevention Symposium is the perfect opportunity to learn about the latest water safety data and research. In an effort to prevent more drownings, we will be discussing critical water safety topics that include:

  • The newest water safety data and research, 
  • How to increase water safety advocacy in communities, counties, and states
  • How the commercial crisis affects our work in water safety. 
  • Advocating for legislation & adoption of standards and codes,
  • Update on the US National Water Safety Action Plan development.

With these discussions, it is hoped that more people will be equipped to prevent drownings. 

This symposium provides an essential platform for sharing life-saving information about water safety. It is a crucial step in ensuring that more people are aware of the dangers of drowning and how to prevent it.

This is a critical event for all members of the aquatics community and water safety advocates that should not be missed. 

Register today to ensure your spot at the symposium!

Click to here register for the in-person event.

Click to here register for the virtual event.

Check out the Virtual Drowning Prevention Symposium Agenda here.

National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) Assembles Experts Across Disciplines to Address the Critical Issue of Childhood Drowning.

SAN DIEGO, September 15, 2022 – On September 13-14, 2022 the National Drowning Prevention Alliance hosted the industry’s first research summit solely dedicated to water safety and drowning prevention for children and adolescents – a critical issue and the single leading cause of death among children ages 1-4 years old.


The National Childhood Drowning Prevention Research Summit was held in San Diego, California and brought together more than 45 researchers and experts from across the country and internationally who have dedicated their careers to the safety and well-being of children.

Hosted by NDPA and moderated by Doyle Strategies, which has led similar summits on child and gun safety, the group included professionals from the governmental, academic, medical, public health and private sectors, including representatives from American Academy Pediatrics, American Red Cross, YMCA, Harvard University, Baylor University, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and other leading organizations and advocates.


“The body of data available for drowning prevention has been historically weak leaving us to use best practices instead of evidence-informed approaches,” said Adam Katchmarchi, Ph.D., M.S., Executive Director, NDPA. “Our goal is to change that and bring all stakeholders together to collaborate on a unified research agenda.”

During the two-day meeting, summit participants discussed the research gaps in the literature surrounding childhood drowning prevention and water safety and prioritized a short- and long-term research agenda based on need and feasibility, while fostering unity among the industry sectors represented.


“It was incredible to see all of the national leaders in child drowning prevention gathered in one room, working together to address this epidemic,” said Ben Hoffman, M.D., Chief Medical Advisor, NDPA and Professor of Pediatrics, Oregon Health & Science University. “There is so much we do not know about how to prevent drowning, and the issue has never received the attention warranted by the magnitude of the problem. It was amazing to see how the group really dug in and did the hard work to ask the right questions and identify the key issues and potential solutions. This was a crucial first step in the process
of preventing drowning among kids.”


With focused discussions on the existing data and science, and actionable work needed to define future research directions and priorities to advance policy and prevention efforts, the summit program included a networking session and a review of research currently underway at CDC. Small, collaborative, interprofessional groups also assessed research needs around four of the established preventive layers of protection – barriers, supervision, water competency, and life jackets.

“I think a better understanding of all of the circumstances around drowning in every environment is going to be critical in order to develop, implement and evaluate drowning prevention strategies,” said Lois Lee, M.D., M.P.H., Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School. “

Following the summit, an evidence review and preliminary conclusions will be compiled and shared with both research and non-research-related qualified stakeholders to weigh in on the results and outcomes.

Post event stakeholder engagement will be conducted via focus groups, interviews, and survey with the goal of gaining insight into areas of consensus and disagreement on proposed research priorities. An overall research summit summary report, in addition to summary reports on identified themes, will be released by NDPA among stakeholder groups.

The Drowning Prevention Research Summit was made possible through the generous funding of the Chuck & Ernestina Kreutzkamp Foundation.

About National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA)
The mission of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance is “United, we can prevent the tragedy of drowning.” Through education, awareness, and advocacy, NDPA seeks to reduce the incidence of drowning and aquatic injuries in the United States and abroad and to address the single leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4. To learn more, visit ndpa.org.

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The threat of drowning continues even after summer ends. With the cooler weather and the holiday season right around the corner, it’s easy to forget that water safety is still important. But drownings don’t take a break just because the temperature dips. The risk of drowning doesn’t go away when kids return to school. In fact, drownings occur just as frequently in the fall and winter months during family gatherings and vacation trips as they do in the summer. 

As the cooler months come around, ensure your child’s swimming skills are up to par. Just because summer is coming to an end doesn’t mean it’s time to forget about swim lessons. Year-round swim lessons are the key for your child to reinforce the skills they have learned. Year-round swim lessons allow kids to keep their water skills fresh and top of mind, allowing them to hone all their water competency knowledge throughout the year. 

Swim Lessons Are an Essential Layer Of Protection Against Drowning

Swim lessons are an essential layer of protection needed to help prevent unintentional drowning incidents. 

In 2009, Dr. Ruth Brenner and her colleagues at the National Institute of Child Health and Development published a study stating that swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children ages 1 to 4 by 88%. This statement is significant because this age group is at the highest risk of drowning in a swimming pool. The study found that swimming lessons can help children learn how to swim and be more comfortable in the water, reducing the risk of drowning.

This study has been cited multiple times in several articles and posts regarding drowning prevention and water safety. Please note that this research had a small sample size and the 95% confidence intervals regarding the protective effects were 3%-99%. It also stated that “swimming skills alone are insufficient to protect a child from drowning.”

Learning to swim is but one of the several layers of protection needed to reduce children’s drowning risk. Parents must know they cannot rely on just one layer of protection to keep kids safe. Nothing, not even swim lessons, can drown-proof a child. All layers must be implemented simultaneously to effectively reduce the risk of drowning incidents from taking place.

Kids are safer in water when they have multiple layers of protection in place. The layers include swimming lessons and aids such as life jackets, bubble covers, and pool fences. Kids need more than one layer of protection to be safe in pools and spas – including swimming lessons taught by a professional swim instructor.

Swimming Lessons & Water Competency

A national survey conducted for the Red Cross in 2020 revealed that people believe themselves to be better swimmers than they really are. The survey also found that of the 85 percent of Americans who said they could swim, only 56 percent could perform all five basic skills (also known as water competency) that might help keep them safe in the water.

According to the American Red Cross, there are three main components to water competency: water smarts, swimming skills, and helping others.

Water smarts involve knowing well what your limitations are in the water and what to do (or not do) to avoid putting yourself in a dangerous situation when in the water, like wearing a US coast guard approved life vest, understanding how weather conditions can impact water safety and how to call for help.

The following are the basic swimming skills needed to be safe in the water:

  • Step or jump into the water over your head.
  • Return to the surface and float or tread water for one minute.
  • Turn around in a full circle and find an exit.
  • Swim 25 yards to the exit.
  • Exit from the water. If in a pool, be able to exit without using the ladder.

Helping others means you know what to do should an emergency occur, like knowing how to assist a drowning victim and learning CPR with rescue breaths.

Any swim program you choose for your child should cover the three components of water competency. They will give your child the tools they need if they accidentally fall into the water unsupervised.

When to Start Swim Lessons

Swim lessons aren’t just about teaching children how to be safe around water — they’re also teaching parents how to do the same.

In 2019, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its water safety guidelines to recommend children start swimming lessons around age 1 to help reduce the risks of drowning. The more comfortable a child is in water, the fewer their chances of drowning; the earlier they’re comfortable, the better.

Parents must remember that learning to swim is but one of the layers of protection that need to be implemented to prevent drowning. Even though learning to swim allows children to be aware of drowning hazards, it does not make them immune to the perils of drowning. Indeed, nothing can drown-proof a child.

Finding the right swim programs for kids isn’t just about your child’s age or experience levels; it’s also about you being comfortable with the facility, instructors, and technique. Things that make a swim lesson program a good fit for you and your child will also vary by age. When choosing the program that best fits your child and your family, be sure to factor in your decision the emotional maturity of your child, their physical and developmental abilities and limitations, and their current comfort level when in the water.

Drowning is preventable when children learn proper water safety skills.

Drowning is a preventable tragedy that occurs far too often, especially in young children. But when kids learn the appropriate water safety skills, they can stay safe around pools, lakes, oceans, and anywhere there is water.

Swim lessons are an excellent way for children to learn about water safety. For starters, they’ll learn how to stay afloat and what they must do if they find themselves in a dangerous situation like accidentally falling into the water.

And while no one can completely prevent accidents, knowing the proper safety techniques can mean the difference between life and death. So make sure your child is enrolled in swim lessons all year long, regardless of the season – it could save their life.

Dr Ben Hoffman Voted AAP President-elect

Benjamin D. Hoffman, M.D., FAAP, of Portland, Ore., has been voted AAP president-elect. He ran against Warren M. Seigel, M.D., M.B.A., FSAHM, FAAP, of Kew Gardens, N.Y.

Dr. Hoffman will take over as president on Jan. 1, 2024, following Sandy L. Chung, M.D., FAAP, of Fairfax, Va., who will serve as president in 2023. Read more about Dr. Hoffman’s background at https://bit.ly/DrBenHoffman.

Results for additional AAP national offices are below. Those elected will take office on Jan. 1, 2023.

At-large Board Member

Joelle N. Simpson, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP

District I Chairperson

Patricia J. Flanagan, M.D., FAAP

District II National Nominating Committee Representative

Lisa B. Handwerker, M.D., FAAP

District V National Nominating Committee Representative

Nakia Venise Allen, M.D., FAAP

District IX National Nominating Committee Representative

Katherine Williamson, M.D., FAAP

There were no position vacancies in Districts III, IV, VI, VII VIII or X.

Originally posted here.

Dry Drowning does not exist

Death is in itself a tragic occurrence, but even more so when it is a child’s caused by drowning. 

Drowning is preventable, but this requires education and knowledge about what it is, how it happens, and the strategies needed to avoid such sad incidents from taking place, strategies such as layers of protection. Unfortunately, there is significant misinformation in the media and the general public about drowning terms. Misnomers such as “dry drowning” (also known as “secondary drowning”) are misleading and inaccurate. 

Furthermore, we must work to eradicate the use of these misnomers because dry drowning does not exist. 

Drowning Is A Leading Cause Of Injury Death

According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths. It is also a common cause of pediatric death. 

CDC data recently published confirms “that there are around 4,000 unintentional drowning deaths and another 8,000 nonfatal drownings that require treatment in an emergency department every year in the United States (…) Drowning is one of the top three leading causes of unintentional injury death among persons aged ≤29 years and more children aged 1–4 years die from drowning than from any other cause, except birth defects.”

What is Drowning?

The World Health Organization has defined drowning as “the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion or immersion in liquid.” 

Drowning has only three subtypes: 

  • Fatal drowning: a drowning incident followed by death. 
  • Nonfatal drowning with injury: the drowning victim has sustained injuries or complications that have not proven fatal.
  • Nonfatal drowning without injury: the drowning victim endured a drowning incident that did not cause injury or death.

These terms were all agreed upon by organizations that have a vested interest in water safety and drowning prevention, such as the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Heart Association, and the American Red Cross in 2002 at the World Congress on Drowning. 

Drowning Is Never Dry

Drowning is, therefore, an event that requires water. Put plainly, drowning cannot occur without exposure to liquid and the subsequent and immediate respiratory problem that this situation brings. Without water, there cannot be a drowning incident because drowning is never dry.

For a drowning event to occur, the child or adult must have been submerged in water. Drowning cannot happen by swallowing water or simply playing with it.  

“Dry drowning” is not an approved medical term.  It has been coined and used by the media to describe incidents when the lungs of drowning victims have appeared to contain no water, which could have been the result of laryngospasm. This involuntary reaction causes the body to forcefully close its airways so water or liquid cannot enter the lungs.

Dry drowning or secondary drowning are terms coined by the media and considered misnomers by the medical community and its organizations. These same organizations have been quite vocal about the need to cease the use of such terms that create fear and confusion in the public and serve no educational or medical purpose at all.

How Can Drowning Be Prevented?

The dangers of drowning are genuine. Parents, caregivers, pool owners, and members of the aquatic community must all be well aware that prevention is an essential tool we have against drowning.

Drowning can be prevented by implementing layers of protection wherever possible and needed. You can begin with the following:

  • Installing four-sided fences around your pool with self-closing hinges and latches. 
  • Never take your eyes off your kids, not for a second. It only takes 30 seconds for a child to drown. Children are naturally curious and drawn to water, making supervision a much-needed layer of protection.
  • Make sure your family members receive water safety education to become water competent.
  • Wear a USCG-approved life jacket when needed.
  • Learn CPR and proper rescue procedures for drowning incidents.

Sources:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17476348.2019.1589373

https://journals.lww.com/em-news/Fulltext/2017/08000/News___Drowning__in_a_Sea_of_Misinformation.3.aspx

https://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/know-the-facts-about-dry-drowning/#:~:text=Michael%20Boniface%2C%20an%20emergency%20medicine,drowning%2C’%E2%80%9D%20says%20Dr.

https://www.aquaticsintl.com/lifeguards/dry-drowning-and-other-misnomers_o

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022437522000883