Drowning Prevention

by Michael_Koger

Drowning is a preventable medical condition, and community awareness is essential to properly address it.

Prevention of these incidents in humans entails several measures. First, one must be safe in and around water. This includes close and continuous supervision of children within arm’s reach--whether or not a lifeguard is present. Second, one has to recognize distress and ask someone to get help. Third, in order to hinder sinking, someone present can provide flotation [1, 2].

Swimming lessons are beneficial for prevention. So are life jackets. Moreover, fences also have a role in obviation [1, 2].

When someone attempts to rescue a swimmer in distress, he or she must not also become a victim. This can occur when currents or deep water which brought the first victim under are still present. This also applies to certified lifeguards who can toss something that floats or use a pole to pull in the person [1, 2].

Alternative Misconceptions

     Misinformation has circulated via the news media and other sources.  Many terms that the public and even medical doctors use are not scientific language.  Secondary drowning is one example, and some inaccurately refer to it as delayed drowning.  Dry drowning, near drowning, and wet drowning are additional terms that are not acceptable descriptions for this problem [2].

     Though some believe that there is a difference between fresh and salt water in terms of drowning risk, this has never been the case [2].

     However, it is true that nonfatal drowning occurs more often than fatal cases.  The process involves an inability of the victim to clear the airway.  He or she aspirates.  This leads to decline in oxygen levels in the blood or hypoxemia and cardiac arrest.  Subsequently, the heart rhythm becomes bizarre, and pulseless electrical activity takes place.  Then there is asystole in which the cardiac monitor shows a flat line [2].

     In some instances, the patient will suffer from hypothermia, and this affords a protective effect on the patient who may survive despite an hour of immersion in the water.  These clients may do well if they receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation as soon as rescuers bring them to dry land [2].


     Drowning has always been a public health problem, and progress in its research and management will enable clinicians and others to save lives.



  1. World Health Organization.  (2018).  Drowning.
  2.  Szpilman, D., Sempsrott, J., Webber, J. et al.  (2018).  “Dry drowning” and other myths.  Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 85, 529-535.
  3. The photo shows a library at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is reprinted with permission from that organization.
  4. Copyright 2018 Michael Koger, Sr.  All Rights Reserved.


     The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and one should not use it for diagnosis or treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact their physician for advice.

Updated: 08/01/2018, Michael_Koger
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