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Drowning (cont.)

Drowning Prevention

As with any accident, prevention is the key.

  • Learning how to swim should be a priority for all children and for people of all ages.
  • A home swimming pool should always be fenced and secure. Motion detectors may be helpful should the fence fail to keep out unsupervised children.
  • When participating in water sports, the use of a personal floatation device (life jacket) is mandatory. Pool toys are not a substitute.
  • Alcohol is a major contributor to drowning accidents. Water and alcohol don't mix.
  • Never leave an infant unattended in a bath tub or near water.
  • Never leave a child unattended near water, whether that is a swimming pool or natural water.

Know where you are swimming:

  • Make certain the depth is at least 10 feet if you decide to dive into the water
  • Know about the dangerous undercurrents and waves that occur in fresh or sea water
  • Avoid dangerous marine animals such as jellyfish and fire coral
  • Know the depth of ice before walking on it
  • Never swim alone.
  • Learn CPR

Drowning Prognosis

  • Drowning victims who are alert and oriented when they arrive in the emergency department usually have an excellent chance for full recovery.
  • If the patient is confused and unconscious, recovery depends on the length of time under water. With early rescue and treatment, full recovery is possible.
  • The mammalian diving reflex is more commonly found in infants and children with slowing of body functions from icy water, increases the opportunity for recovery even after a long immersion. There is no guarantee that the mammalian reflex will occur. The patient who is comatose after a cold water drowning is unlikely to return to completely normal function.
  • The younger and healthier the patient, the better the prognosis. The colder and cleaner the water, the better the prognosis.

Medically reviewed by Avrom Simon, MD; Board Certified Preventative Medicine with Subspecialty in Occupational Medicine


Sayre, M. R. et al. Hands-Only (Compression-Only) Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation: A Call to Action for Bystander Response to Adults Who Experience Out-of-Hospital Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Cardiovascular Care Committee Science Advisory for the Public From the American Heart Association Emergency. Circulation 2008;117:2162-2167

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/21/2017

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