Resources for Drowning Prevention Professionals
Drowning Prevention Policy and Program Development
Life Jacket Policy
Life jackets protect swimmers and boaters in, on or near the water. Even skilled swimmers and boaters sometimes find themselves in unexpected situations, such as a rapid change in the depth of open water or being thrown from a boat into the water after a collision. Unfortunately, many people do not wear life jackets. In 2009, at least 90% of boating-relating drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket, according to the United States Coast Guard.
Learn more about local, national and international life jacket policies and policy initiatives:
- Washington State Life Jacket Law
- U.S. Coast Guard Life Jacket Recommendations
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mandatory Life Jacket Study/Test (PDF)
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Life Jacket Policy Test Summary, March 2011 (PDF)
- Will It Float? Mandatory PFD Wear Legislation in Canada (PDF)
Open Water Drowning Prevention Policy
Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death among children and youth in Washington state. 85% of these drownings occur in open water, such as lakes and rivers. Policies are an important way to improve open water safety and prevent drowning.
The Washington State Child and Youth Open Water Drowning Prevention Policy Task Force, Washington State Drowning Prevention Network and child injury and water safety experts identified short-term and long-term policy strategies to reduce open water drowning in Washington state. Policy areas of focus include: safer water recreation sites, life jackets, BUI and open water enforcement, surveillance, swimming skills and water safety education, physical open water barriers and partnerships.
From 2011 to 2016 Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Washington State Department of Health Injury Prevention Program collaborated on a five-year Washington State Violence and Injury Prevention grant funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to test, implement and evaluate open-water drowning prevention policy priorities identified in Washington State Open Water Drowning Prevention: Policy Strategies for Children and Youth, 2011 to 2016 (PDF). The strategies, accomplishments and lessons learned for each of the identified drowning prevention policy priority areas for this grant are provided in the grant final reports below. All files are PDFs.
- Life Jackets (PDF)
- BUI and Open Water Enforcement (PDF)
- Surveillance – Drowning Reporting Tool (PDF)
- Surveillance – Healthy Youth Survey (PDF)
- Swimming Skills and Water Safety Education (PDF)
- Physical Open Water Barriers (PDF)
- Partnerships (PDF)
These checklists are designed to help individuals, organizations and communities identify gaps in water safety and policy and program changes to fix the gaps.
Drowning in open water is a major concern around the world. An 18-member international task force from 12 countries has developed a set of guidelines for families and individuals recreating at any open-water site.
Swimming Pool Policy
Most drownings among children ages 1 to 4 in the United States occur in residential swimming pools. According to the Centers for Disease Control, most children were last seen at home, had been out of sight for less than 5 minutes and were in the care of 1 or more caregivers at the time.
- Pool Facility Owner and Operator Resources (Washington State Department of Health)
- Pool and Spa Safety (Public Health - Seattle and King County)
- Pool Safely (Consumer Product Safety Commission)
- Model Aquatic Health Code (Centers for Disease Control)