Drowning is Preventable

Drowning is Preventable

Jun 23, 2013


Several Local Agencies Partner in Effort to Shore Up Residents’ Drowning Prevention Efforts 

Inland Northwest Drowning Prevention Coalition members stress importance of not underestimating dangerous open waters, importance of life jackets

For more information, contact Kim Papich, SRHD Public Information (509) 324-1539

SPOKANE, Wash. – June 26, 2013 – As recent news reports make clear, swimming and floating in open waters, especially on the Spokane River at higher stream flows, can be hazardous, especially for inexperienced swimmers who don’t use life jackets.
The Inland Northwest Drowning Prevention Coalition, which includes several local rescue organizations and other vested agencies, are joining efforts this month with a common safety message—preventing future drownings is as simple as residents putting on their life jackets. It is a precaution that is as easy as buckling a seat belt while in a vehicle.
Central to this campaign is a new 45-second PSA emphasizing drowning prevention messages locally. To view the PSA now, click here. Coalition members will also do additional outreach throughout the month, including partnering with Big 5 Sporting Goods stores to offer a 25 percent off coupon for life jackets, through Sept. 30, available on the coalition Web site by clicking here.
In Washington, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death for everyone younger than 50. Teens, especially boys, are at higher risk because they’re more likely to do risky things like trying to swim across a river, and are less likely to wear life jackets than are teenage girls, young children, and older people. About half of drowning victims didn’t intend to be immersed in water. They were fishing in or near a river, riding in a boat, or wading, but slipped and fell in cold or swift water. In the Spokane region, most drownings occur in the summer months.
The coalition urges everyone to ensure they have the correct size and type of U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket, knows how to swim, and knows how to stay safe in and around water. Anyone planning a river activity like kayaking, canoeing, rafting or floating on a tube should always check river levels and conditions before leaving home. Runoff from mountain snowmelt and rain can create cold, high, fast-moving water that can carry debris and be treacherous even for strong swimmers. It is best to avoid areas in rivers and streams with branches, trees or structures like bridges or dams because they can pull or hold a person under.
The coalition also offers these important life jacket tips:

  • Be prepared at all times by wearing a life jacket - you'll never know when you'll be tossed into the water.
  • Parents are powerful role models - if they wear life jackets, it's more likely their children will too.
  • Take life jackets, a rescue device, a cell phone, and someone who knows rescue breathing whenever you are out on the water.
  • Parents need to teach their children about the dangers of open water at rivers and beaches.
  • Many sporting goods stores will assist customers in selecting appropriate, properly-fitting life jackets.
  • Watch children closely around water - they can go under water quickly and quietly.

More drowning prevention information and a complete list of coalition members can be found at

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