Teenage and Adult Drowning
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- Every year, more than 60 Oklahomans aged 15 and older drown.
- More than three-fourths of drownings occur outdoors in natural bodies of water, including lakes, rivers, creeks, and ponds.
- Nine out of ten people who drown are not wearing a life jacket.
- Nearly half of all teenage and adult drownings involve alcohol use.
- Keep a phone nearby in case of emergency.
- Learn to swim well. Do not overestimate your swimming ability or strength.
- Learn CPR. Early intervention can improve outcomes.
- No matter how old you are, always swim with a buddy.
- Do not drink alcohol or take mind-altering drugs before or while swimming, boating, skiing, getting in a hot tub, or bathing.
Open Water and Boating
- Swimming in open water is not the same as in a pool. Always enter the water feet first.
- Be aware of uneven surfaces, currents, undertow, and weather.
- Everyone should wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket – no matter how old or how well they swim. Swimming noodles, water wings, or inner tubes are not safety devices. They should not be used in place of a life jacket.
- Take a boating safety course.
Canals, Drains, and Ditches
- Teach older children not to play, bike, or swim near canals or ditches.
- Do not drive or walk through moving flood waters, no matter how large your vehicle.
- It takes only six inches of moving water to knock over an adult, and only two feet to carry away most vehicles (including SUVs and pickups).
What does drowning look like?
- People who are drowning often can’t call for help. Their mouths are only above water long enough to breathe in and out.
- They can’t wave their arms for help. The natural motion of the arms while drowning is out and down to propel the body above the water to breathe.
- Glassy eyes and unfocused gaze.
- Tilted head with the mouth open or head in water and mouth at water level.
- Closed eyes or hair over eyes.
- Not using the legs to kick.
- Gasping for air or hyperventilating.
- If you are not sure – ask them if they are alright. If they don’t answer, you may have only a few seconds to get to them.
Injury Prevention Service, OSDH, 1000 NE 10th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73117
Revised July 2012
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