Are Non-Fatal Drownings Noteworthy?

Aquatic Safety Group


Tom J. Griffiths, ED.D. and Rachel Griffiths, Aquatic Safety Specialists ::::
The public and many water safety advocates are more than aware of the risk of fatal drowning, especially for children under the age of four, males, and African Americans. However, while focusing on fatalities, the frequency and significance of non-fatal drownings is often overlooked. Non-fatal drownings are just as devastating as fatal drowning, if not more so.
According to a Canadian Study presented at the World Conference on Drowning Prevention, non-fatal drowning has been estimated to be anywhere from twice to fifty times more common than fatal drownings.
As many as one third of all drowning survivors have sustained significant neurological damage due to anoxic encephalopathy. As a result, non-fatal drownings not only contribute significantly to the pain and suffering of the victim and family of the victim, but the financial burden of treating non-fatal drowning victims is astronomical.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that non-fatal drowning is a significant cause of injury, pain, suffering, and financial costs, there is notably less information on non-fatal drowning. Privacy issues are one reason for the lack of information on the total cost (mentally, physically, emotionally, financially) of drowning victims and their families. It is important to remember although the annual fatal drowning figure hovers around 4,000; the number of non-fatal drowning is significantly greater than that.
When we speak of drowning prevention we should consider both fatal and non-fatal drownings to appreciate the full impact of these tragedies. Simply stated, drowning is the tragedy that keeps on giving.
Fortunately, drowning prevention is quite simple:

  • Swimming lessons early and often.
  • Life Jackets for ALL non swimmers in ALL bodies of water.
  • Certified, qualified and vigilant Lifeguards.
  • Vigilant and undistracted parents at pool side or in the water.

Tom J. Griffiths, ED.D. and Rachel Griffiths are Aquatic Safety Specialists with DJS Associates and can be reached via email at or via phone at 215-659-2010.


Categories: Aquatic Safety Specialists | Rachel Griffiths | Tom J. Griffiths

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