How to avoid drowning: swimming pool, sea, important movements

47% of the accidental drownings took place at sea, 26% in swimming pools. Children under 6 and people over 65 are the biggest victims. Tips to avoid, diet, warning signs, dry drowning … Tips for accident-free swimming.

At all ages, swimming is associated with risks, which is why it is important to take the right preventive reflexes. Drowning can mostly be prevented. During the summer of 2021, 1,480 accidental drownings were recorded, a figure decreased by 10% compared to the summer of 2018, Public Health France emphasizes on 21 June 2022 in its latest study NOYADES. The proportion of deaths was comparable in 2021 (27%) and in 2018 (25%). These drownings are more prevalent among young and old with 22% of accidental drownings in children under 6 and 26% in persons aged 65 and over. Proportion of drowned followed by death was higher among over 65: 41% compared to 6% in children under 6 years of age. Around printing presses, 47% of the accidental drownings took place at sea, 26% in the pool all types combined (especially for children), 23% in water or body of water and 4% elsewhere (eg baths or basins). Here are the most important things to know to avoid drowning at sea, swimming pool, children, adults, the elderly …

What advice before swimming?

  • Ensure your training level, and ideally let a lifeguard recognize your ability to evolve in the water in complete safety.
  • Adjust the intensity of your swimming to your abilities and do not overestimate your swimming level.
  • Selects monitored bathing areas where the intervention of rescue teams is faster and absolutely avoid forbidden or dangerous bathing areas. In any case, even if the area is under surveillance, it is advisable to always pay attention.
  • Find out more about the swimming conditions of the staff responsible for monitoring (the nature of the waves, the intensity of the current, tides, natural hazards, etc.)

Remember that it is harder and more tiring to swim in natural surroundings (sea, lake, river) than in a swimming pool

  • Observe the safety instructions given by the bathing flags and / or lifeguards.
  • Do not swim if you notice physical disturbances (including fatigue, health problems, chills, body aches)
  • Remember that it is harder and more tiring to swim in natural surroundings (sea, lake, river) than in a swimming pool.
  • Do not consume alcohol before swimming
  • Tell a loved one before swimming

What tips for swimming?

  • Gradually get into the water especially after long exposure to the sun, wet first the neck, then the arms and abdomen, especially if the water is cold. Pay special attention to temperature differences: The body may be exposed to hydrocution or thermal shock, which can cause discomfort, even cardiac or respiratory arrest.
  • In the event of the slightest shiver or physical disturbance, do not bathe and get out of the water immediately.
  • Stay alert while swimming and pay attention to the impact zone of the waves: certain areas such as the head, neck or abdomen are more fragile.
  • Before swimming away, take care of your physical condition and your fatigue to be sure of being able to return ashore. Remember that it is easier to swim in a pool than in a natural environment (sea, lake, river …).
  • Do not consume alcohol while swimming.
  • Do not expose yourself too much to the sun before swimming.
  • If you are engaged in a nautical activity, bring the recommended safety items such as a helmet, a life jacket …
  • If a person drowns, notify the rescuers immediately and do not lose sight of it until the lifeguards are in the water. When the drowned person is out of the water, emergency services should be contacted as soon as possible, which will provide the procedure to be followed (put the person in a lateral position (PSL) so that they do not suffocate and that they spit the water out of his mouth, perform heart massage …)

What to do in case of an accident or illness?

  • Do not fight against the current and the waves at risk of becoming too exhausted. Reassuring is the best solution because stress can make the situation worse.
  • If possible, lie on your back (in plank position) to rest and regain strength: this helps to clear the airways, to breathe normally and easier to call for help.

What advice with children?

  • Always keep an eye on your children, whether they are bathing or playing at the water’s edge, even if they are wearing armbands.
  • Ask, as far as possible, at the same time as them.
  • Designate only one responsible adult who is responsible for supervising the children.
  • As soon as they are close to the water, equip children who are not yet able to swim well with armbands with CE marking and standard NF 13138-1. These bracelets should fit their size, age and weight.
  • Buoys or other things floating in the water do not protect against drowning.
  • We remind you that only 20 cm of water is needed before a child, without supervision, drowns.
  • Learning to swim : Most drownings can be prevented. According to Public Health France, almost every sixth Frenchman (16%) says they cannot swim; this proportion increases with age: 5% among 15-24-year-olds and more than 35% among 65-75-year-olds. It is therefore important to teach children to swim as early as possible or at least to accustom them to the aquatic environment, although these conditions alone can not protect against drowning in children. It is never too late to learn to swim, not even as an adult.

dry drowning – also called delayed drowning – occurs out of the water a few hours to a few days (max. 72 hours) after swimming. In contrast to wet drowning, which is characterized by ingestion of water and collapse (sudden discomfort accompanied by a drop in blood pressure) of the respiratory system, dry drowning is manifested by respiratory failure due to recent immersion in liquid. Specifically, if someone has drunk the cup or almost drowned, there is a risk of dry drowning, although it is relatively rare. Symptoms of dry drowning are similar to those of an asthma attack: coughing, difficulty breathing or wheezing. In addition, if you experience stomach pain, fever and intense drowsiness after drinking the cup or after almost drowning, call Samu (15) or the emergency services (112) to listen to their advice and specify what happened in the water.

After drinking the cup or almost drowning, these three symptoms should warn and lead to an urgent medical consultation:

  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal pain accompanied by fever and vomiting

→ During swimming:

Whether the pool is buried or half buried, it is necessary equip it with a safety device. Barriers, pool enclosures or canopies prevent physical access to the pool and are particularly suitable for young children. Always remember to close them or reinstall them after swimming. Audible alarms warn of a child falling into the water (immersion alarms) or a child approaching the pool (perimeter alarms), but in no way prevent drowning. In addition, a pole, a buoy and ideally a telephone should be placed near the pool to limit the risk of drowning.

→ After swimming:

Remember to take out any liquid objects, such as buoys, ferrets or inflatables, and put the safety device back on. If possible, remove the pool ladder to block access.

Alarm number: 112

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