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High Number of Local Drownings Cause for Serious Concern

July 12, 2006

KING COUNTY, WA – So far this year, there have been more King County drownings than in all of 2005. With many more weeks to go in the summer swimming and boating season, King County residents are strongly encouraged to swim at lifeguarded beaches and pools, swim and boat only when sober, and wear a lifejacket or vest when swimming or boating in open water like the ocean, lakes and rivers.

KING COUNTY, WA – So far this year, there have been more King County drownings than in all of 2005. With many more weeks to go in the summer swimming and boating season, King County residents are strongly encouraged to swim at lifeguarded beaches and pools, swim and boat only when sober, and wear a lifejacket or vest when swimming or boating in open water like the ocean, lakes and rivers.

Between January and June of this year, there have been 18 unintentional drowning deaths in King County. Of those deaths, all occurred in areas without lifeguards, 11 were in open water, and at least 4 involved alcohol or drugs. In addition, 13 were male. There were 17 drownings in all of 2005.

Today, Public Health – Seattle & King County will join with the American Red Cross Serving King & Kitsap Counties, Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and other local organizations in a “Lifejacket fashion show” for teens. The lifejacket fashion show, which also features in-water demonstrations, will be at 12:30 p.m. at Mt. Baker Beach in Seattle (2301 Lake Washington Blvd. South).

To help reverse this year’s spike, the King County Board of Health and Public Health - Seattle & King County are now airing a radio public service announcement urging everybody to swim in beaches with lifeguards.

Important water safety tips:

  • Swim and boat only when sober.
  • Wear a lifejacket or vest when swimming or boating in open water like the ocean, lakes and rivers.
  • Take extra precautions or avoid swimming in fast-moving rivers. The currents and cold water temperatures can be extremely dangerous.
  • Ensure that infants and children wear a lifejacket or vest when in or near open water. Washington law requires children twelve years old and younger to wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket or vest on all vessels less than nineteen feet.
  • Supervise children when they are in or near all types of water. Appoint sober adults to supervise children at beach or pool gatherings. Ensure supervisors are close enough to provide immediate rescue to children in need.
  • Ensure all family members know how to swim.
  • Swim only in areas with lifeguards.
  • Learn CPR.

Learn more about drowning prevention.

About Public Health – Seattle & King County

Providing effective and innovative health and disease prevention services for over 1.8 million residents and visitors of King County, Public Health – Seattle & King County works for safer and healthier communities for everyone, every day. 

About Seattle Children's Hospital

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Children’s has been delivering superior patient care and advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit http://www.seattlechildrens.org.

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