World Drowning Prevention Day Date in the current year: July 25, 2024

World Drowning Prevention Day World Drowning Prevention Day is a United Nations observance held annually on July 25. It was established by the General Assembly to raise global awareness of the importance of drowning safety and encourage relevant stakeholders to take measures to improve water safety.

According to the definition provided by the World Health Organization (WHO), drowning is “the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in liquid”. Although a lot of people associate drowning with death, there are three possible outcomes of drowning: death, ongoing health problems and complications, and drowning with no complications. Drowning that doesn’t result in death or ongoing health problems is sometimes referred to as “near-drowning”.

Drowning accounts for 7% of all injury-related deaths worldwide, which makes it one of the leading causes of death resulting from unintentional injury. An estimated 236,000 people die from drowning globally every year. However, this death toll excludes people who drowned as a result of water transport incidents and floods, so the actual number of drowning deaths is much higher.

The overwhelming majority of deaths caused by unintentional drowning occur in low- and middle-income countries. More than half of drowning accidents in the world occur in two WHO regions: Western Pacific Region, which has the world’s highest death rates from drowning, and South-East Asian Region.

According to the 2014 Global Report on Drowning presented by the WHO, the risk factors for drowning include age (the highest drowning rates are among kids under 9 years of age), gender (the risk of drowning in males is twice as high as in females), increased access to water (for example, due to living near open water sources or occupation), flood disasters, traveling on water, medical conditions, alcohol use, and others.

Given that drowning is a global public health challenge, one might think that it is hard to overestimate the importance of drowning prevention. However, in reality the scope of the actual public health problem related to drowning is severely underestimated relative to its impact.

The UN General Assembly established World Drowning Prevention Day in April 2021 to raise awareness of actions that can be taken by governments, NGOs, the private sector and other stakeholders to reduce the risk of drowning and keep communities safe. Drowning prevention measures include:

  • installing barriers that help control access to open water;
  • providing safe places away from open water sources and supervised childcare for preschool children;
  • teaching children basic swimming skills and water safety rules;
  • raising drowning prevention awareness among the general public and training bystanders in water rescue and resuscitation techniques;
  • developing and enacting legislation and policies that enforce water safety rules and standards;
  • developing national water safety strategies and improving flood risk management.

A detailed description of these measures can be found in the WHO’s drowning prevention guide entitled Preventing Drowning: An Implementation Guide that was released in May 2017.

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