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Accidental death by drowning: an adult phenomenon.


Of the approximately 6,000 persons in the U.S. who drown each year, almost 70 percent are over 20 years of age. Only motor vehicle accidents exceed drowning as a cause of accidental death in adults between the ages of 20 and 44 years.

A study of 293 adult drownings in Sacramento, Calif., demonstrated that 83 percent were unintentional, 8.2 percent were of undetermined cause, 7.5 percent were suicides, and 1 percent were murders. Drowning occurred most frequently in men aged 20-29 years and among blacks. Alcohol was implicated in 48 percent of all drownings, and 77 percent of alcohol-related drownings involved persons in motor vehicles. Other drugs such as cocaine and opiates were found in 9 percent of the water victims.

Control of alcohol consumption could markedly decrease the number of adult drownings. How difficult is it to minimize drinking while boating, swimming, fishing or driving? Persons who continue to drink during recreational periods are the proverbial "accident waiting to happen." (American Journal of Preventive Medicine, November/December 1988; 4:343.)
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Publication:Medical Update
Date:Sep 1, 1989
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