Strategies for open water drowning prevention

TitleStrategies for open water drowning prevention
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsBennett, E, Dr. Quan, MD, L
Conference NameWorld Conference on Drowning Prevention
Date Published09/2007
PublisherInternational Life Saving Federation
Conference LocationPorto, Portugal
Other Numbers02-15

­Context: Worldwide, while most drownings occur in open water like lakes and rivers, agreement on key interventions and programs are lacking. Many children learn how to swim in a swimming pool where they and parents are usually not taught skills to survive in open water. Most open water programs focus on boating safety, ignoring drowning prevention while swimming or playing in or near the water. Our goal is to develop an open water safety agenda for families.

Project/Partners: Members of the Washington State Drowning Prevention Network were asked to identify key messages, define what constitutes adequate parental supervision of children of different age groups, water site hazard assessment, safety or rescue devices, recommended parental skills, general “rules” around the water, and best teaching practices for an open water drowning prevention session. Network members included physicians, lifeguards, swim instructors, educators, marine patrol officers and public health professionals.

Results: Recommendations focused on three key messages: know the water, know your limits and wear a life jacket.  A consensus process allowed prioritization of recommendations.

Discussion:  This working session will review, provide input, and revise these recommendations to form the basis for an open water drowning prevention program that could be used worldwide.

Learning Outcomes
  1. Define what the layperson should assess to determine whether a body of water is safe to enter
  2. Define ways in which a layperson could safely rescue a drowning person
  3. List several components of a water safety educational session for parents
  4. Identify what support or infrastructure (organization/community/government level) is needed to maximize the effectiveness of an educational session
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