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Drowning Prevention Talking Points

by School's Out Washington | | Posted under Afterschool and Summer News, Best Starts for Kids OST, School's Out News

For Law Enforcement, Fire Officials, and Water Safety Partners

We all have a part to play in water safety. Recent drowning events and weather have us on high alert!

Every year, we see preventable tragedy on the water. In King County, 17 people died in preventable drownings in 2017. Concern includes over 70% of all victims had alcohol, drugs or both as a factor compared to 50% in previous five years.
Public Health – Seattle & King County has created these updated talking points for you to use when communicating with the public and media about drowning prevention. If you have questions, please contact Tony Gomez, Violence and Injury Prevention Manager for Public Health at 206-263-8178, Tony.Gomez@kingcounty.gov or James Apa, Communications Manager, at 206-263-8698, James.Apa@kingcounty.gov.

Key Messages

Drowning is a preventable tragedy and an important public health and public safety issue. With snowpack’s exceeding normal levels this year, rivers will be cold, fast, deep, and often deadly as the snow melts in spring and early summer. Warm weather draws people to lakes, rivers and salt water areas, creating high risk situations for themselves, others and rescuers. The safest decision may be to not enter the water. Swimmers, boaters and other water recreationists should follow these recommendations to prevent drownings:

Know the risks: Washington waters are cold enough to cause ones muscles to not work, even on the hottest summer day. Cold water can weaken even the strongest swimmer. This is Cold Water Incapacitation!

Learn to swim, including water safety and survival skills: To enjoy the water safely, learn swim strokes, water safety and survival skills, and becoming comfortable in the water. Spring, is a good time of year for this! 

Wear a lifejacket: Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved lifejacket when boating, tubing, rafting, swimming or other activities in or on lakes, rivers, salt water, or pools without a lifeguard.

Swim where there’s a lifeguard: Swim in areas with lifeguards. Many beaches in King County don’t have lifeguards until mid to late June, so wear a lifejacket while swimming in those areas in the meantime.

Supervise children in or near water: Always provide close and constant attention to children you are supervising in or near water. Stay within touching distance of young children at all times.

Do not use alcohol or drugs during water activities: Never use alcohol or other impairing drugs during water and boating activities or while supervising children around the water. Alcohol affects balance, coordination, and judgement. Exposure to sun and heat worsen these effects.

Learn first aid and CPR: Learn first aid and CPR. Full CPR, which combines chest compressions and breaths, is best for a drowned person. Seconds count—the more quickly lifesaving CPR is started, the better the chances of recovery. Dial 911 in an emergency.

Quick Statistics

King County (KC)

Washington State
For more information, visit Public Health’s Water Safety webpages at: www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/injury/water and https://publichealthinsider.com/


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