WATER IS NECESSARY FOR LIFE, BUT CAN ALSO TAKE IT AWAY

Water activities are common recreation, particularly during the hot summer months when children are out of school, some people are off work, and vacations are taken. Unfortunately, the summer months are also when the majority of accidental drowning deaths occur. Although drowning deaths most commonly occur during recreational activities in lakes, rivers, and swimming pools, drowning may also occur in bathtubs and hot tubs, particularly if one is intoxicated with alcohol and/or drugs.

In 2010, the Travis County Medical Examiner Department assisted in the investigation of 40 accidental drowning deaths that occurred in Travis County, and in regional counties that it provides autopsy service for. Of these 40 drowning deaths, 25 (62%) occurred from May through August, and 4 of the deaths involved children aged 5 years and under. In 2009, the Travis County Medical Examiner Department assisted in the investigation of 44 accidental drowning deaths that occurred in Travis County, and in regional counties that it provides autopsy service for. Of these 44 accidental drowning deaths, 28 (63%) occurred from May through August, and 10 of the deaths involved children aged 5 years and under.

Many people who drown are intoxicated with alcohol and/or drugs. Of the 84 accidental drowning deaths that occurred during 2009 and 2010 combined, 30 (36%) had blood alcohol concentrations greater than 0.08%. (0.08% is the blood alcohol concentration that is the limit of "legal intoxication" in Texas). Seventeen of the 84 cases (20%) had illicit drugs, pain medications, or sedative drugs detected.

One must exercise safe practices when around water. Always watch your children, and make sure that they cannot access swimming pools, rivers, ponds, etc. when you are not around. Swimming pools should have barriers around them to prevent children from accessing them. When in and around water, preschool children should have "touch supervision", where the supervisor is close enough to reach the child at all times. Swim with a buddy, or in areas with lifeguards present, whenever possible. Make use of life vests when boating or engaging in other water-related recreational activities. Do not go swimming or engage in any other recreational water activities when drunk or intoxicated with drugs. Do not enter water if you do not know how to swim, or have a seizure disorder. Do not take a bath or enter a hot tub to relax when drunk, intoxicated with drugs, or if you have a seizure disorder. In addition, everybody should learn how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Drowning deaths are preventable!

Drowning Deaths 2009 and 2010

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