Deaths by drowning

The main causes for deaths by drowning are:


  • Weak swimming skills – a weak swimmer may ofter overestimate their abilities. They may swim in too deep water, where feet cannot touch the bottom and panic may arise when they get tired. A coordinated swim is replaced by flailing around in panic, which contributers further to quick sinking.
  • Unsupervised children – Parents often leave their children unsupervised near bodies of water or trust them into the care of siblings not much older that the children. They don’t often consider, that a depth or waves safe for adults may prove fatally dangerous to children.
  • Alcohol – Inebriation is the main cause of drowning for men. Small amounts of alcohol or a hangover can also be dangerous. An inebriated person gets tired more quickly and reflex cardiovascular dysfunctions may occur. Hypothermia or a reduced blood flow to the limbs may occur suddenly
  • Health condition – The condition of one’s health or doctor’s suggestions are often ignored when going for a swim. Swimming can be dangerous for people suffering from heart, kidney, lung and ear conditions or epileptics. People also often don’t account for their age – what might have been accomplishable last summer, might not be so next year.
  • Swimming in non-designated places – People often go swimming in the sea with strong waves or in a river with a strong current. Unfamiliar waters may also contain whirlpools or seaweeds a person may get tangled in. Many injuries occur when jumping into the water from non-designated places, such as bridges or piers. It should be kept in mind that waters not designated for swimming may contain underwater pillars, rocks, tree stumps and other debris and there may be sharp or dangerous items on the bottom, such as glass shards.
  • Swimming with random floating objects – weak swimmers or persons who cannot swim often use floating aids, such as inner tubes of a car, air mattresses, inflatable toys, homemade rafts and so on and so may not apprehend the depth of the water. When flipping over and realising that they cannot reach the bottom, they could start panicking.
  • Violating boating regulations – Boating accidents are often caused by lack of skill or negligence. The more usual causes are overloading the boat, driving while drunk, using unseaworthy vessels and lack of experience. Countries that have statistics on boating accidents and their causes have concluded that most drowning victims would have survived, had they used a life jacket.

Source: T. Klooster, I Paulus 2005 „Vetelpääste“, Estonian Academy of Security Sciences, Tallinn