Drowning statistics on the basis of press cuttings

TitleDrowning statistics on the basis of press cuttings
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsSchulte-Huelsmann, L
Conference NameWorld Conference on Drowning Prevention
Date Published09/2007
PublisherInternational Life Saving Federation
Conference LocationPorto, Portugal
Other Numbers02-48

The DLRG has been collecting data on cases of drowning in Germany since the year 2000. The collection is based on press clippings. The clippings are identified on the basis of specified keywords by a large clipping agency with partners in Europe and the world.

Every week, the DLRG receives the original documents for further processing. This data collection and evaluation is carried out on an ongoing basis by the DLRG’s own staff within the Federal Centre of the lifesaving organisation. This makes it possible to obtain evaluation results during the year as well (e.g. after the end of the bathing season or in the autumn).

The data obtained by evaluating the press clippings are complemented by:

  • an ongoing Internet research for various keywords,
  • inquiries at more than 2,200 local DLRG clubs in Germany,
  • additional telephone inquiries relating to individual cases, e.g. when the press reports are not clear.

The data evaluation comprises the inspection and checking of the press documents. In most cases, the data collection procedure enables an exact classification of fatal water accidents and their circumstances.

Afterwards, the initial material is summarised according to different basic parameters. These are:

  • Sex
  • Age (in 5-year ranges)
  • Date of the accident
  • Place of the accident (types of water, i.e. lake, sea, pool, etc.)
  • Assignment to regions / Federal States
  • Deaths by drowning per 100,000 inhabitants

In addition to these basic parameters, the initial material is examined in detail for other criteria as well, for example:

  • Drowning in rivers and streams (Rhine, Elbe, Oder, etc.);
  • Drowning in private and public swimming-pools;
  • Drowning during different activities (swimming, surfing, sailing, diving, etc.).

Thus, the evaluation and presentation of the results in the standard categories is carried out to a large extent on the basis of the IDB (injury data base) code as well.

Fatal accidents are reflected in media reports to a particularly great extent. Therefore, press clippings generated from such reports offer an abundance of information about causes and circumstances of deaths by drowning as well as background information about the people concerned. The state survey systems do either not collect any comparable information at all or only to a small extent.

The evaluation system is flexible and enables (including short-term) modifications, corrections and additions within the categories. Example: identification of additional, current risk factors, such as floods.

The general objective of the data analysis is to gain knowledge about what preventive measures must be taken and where they must be taken in order to significantly reduce the number of fatal water accidents in the future.

Learning Outcomes
  • To find alternative instruments to collect qualified data on national drowning either than those of a national statistics office
  • To know how press cuttings work and to evaluate the recent information which systematic national press cuttings of reports on accidents provide
  • To learn which serious and useful results of a national press cutting data collection on drowning presents a lifesaving organisation for strategic decisions’ and activities.