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Open Water Regulations Linked to Lower Drowning Death Rates

Open water drowning death rates lower in states with more types of regulations in dose-response pattern

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 8, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Open water regulations are associated with lower open water drowning death rates, according to a study published online Jan. 7 in Injury Prevention.

Linda Quan, M.D., from Seattle Children’s Hospital, and colleagues identified and calculated open water drowning deaths involving all ages from 2012 to 2017 for 50 states. Types of state regulations for open water swim sites in place in 2017 were identified for a sample of 30 states (20 high-drowning and 10 low-drowning). The associations with open water drowning death rates were assessed in three groups (overall, youth, and nonwhite) and by types of state regulations.

The researchers observed associations between swim site regulations and open water drowning death rates for 10,839 victims. Lower open water drowning death rates were seen in states with more types of regulations in a dose-response relationship. Compared with states with all five types of regulations, those lacking regulations had higher open water drowning death rates among youth and nonwhite residents (3.02 and 4.16 times higher, respectively). Overall and among those aged 0 to 17 years, lifeguard and tracking/planning/reporting regulations correlated with a 33 and 45 percent reduction, respectively, in open water drowning death rates.

“States interested in lowering their open water drowning rates, especially among high-risk populations, could evaluate their existing regulations and consider implementation of these regulations,” the authors write.

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