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What is drowning and what are the statistics?
According to WHO, "Drowning is the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from
submersion/immersion in liquid." The possible outcomes of drowning are
classified as death, morbidity (the development of disability or injury), and no
This simple definition was agreed upon at the 2002 World Congress
of Drowning held in Amsterdam. Prior to that meeting, some definitions and
classifications of drowning were not necessarily well defined, and their
meanings were subject to a variety of interpretations by different countries and
health organizations. While some people still try to sort drowning events into
categories (for example wet vs. dry, primary vs. secondary, fatal vs. non-fatal),
these terms may or may not adequately describe a patient's situation, the
effects of drowning on their body, or the potential outcome.
Drowning is the third most common cause of accidental death worldwide,
accounting for 7% of all injury related deaths.
According to WHO, more than 350,000 people die every
year from drowning. This number significantly underestimates the actual number
because they do not include those who drown in floods, boating, or water
Almost half of all drowning in the world occur in China and
The death rate from drowning does not reflect the potential morbidity
(disability) due to brain injury for those who survive a drowning episode.
countries do not keep non-fatal drowning statistics.