12 Key facts about drowning

The WHO says drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide

An image of someone underwater
Image: Tim Marshall

Nigerian singer Davido and girlfriend Chioma's three year old son Ifeanyi died after he drowned in their family pool on November 1st.

The boy was under the care of the musician's employees who have since been arrested for questioning by police. The couple wasn't at home when the incident happened.


Most recently, a Kenyan woman drowned in a pool in Canada while live streaming.  Hellen Wendy was live on Facebook in August and the horrific accident was filmed for the whole world to see.


Here is what you need to know about swimming pool accidents, according to the WHO and CDC websites respectively. 

The definition of drowning is the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid; outcomes are classified as death, morbidity and no morbidity.


Here are key facts;


1. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children aged 1-4.

2. There is fatal and non fatal drowning. Fatal leads to death while non fatal leads to a person sustaining injuries resulting in a permanent disability.

3. Certain factors make drowning more likely eg not being able to swim, not having barriers around the edges of the pool and lack of close supervision by ad adult for minors in some situations.

4. Males are especially at risk of drowning, with twice the overall mortality rate of females.

They are more likely to be hospitalized than females for non-fatal drowning.

Studies suggest that the higher drowning rates among males are due to increased exposure to water and riskier behaviour such as swimming alone, drinking alcohol before swimming alone and boating.

5. Children who live near open water sources, such as ditches, ponds, irrigation channels, or pools are especially at risk.

6. Drowning risks increase with floods particularly in low- and middle-income countries where people live in flood prone areas and the ability to warn, evacuate, or protect communities from floods is weak or only just developing.

7. There are an estimated 236 000 annual drowning deaths worldwide.

8. Global estimates may significantly underestimate the actual public health problem related to drowning.

9. Children, males and individuals with increased access to water are most at risk of drowning.

10. Alcohol use, near or in the water significantly increases a person's risk.

11. Medical conditions, such as epilepsy are key factors one should exercise caution.

12. Tourists unfamiliar with local water at at a higher risk too.

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