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Boys at Much Higher Drowning Risk

Males five times as likely to die in water as females

THURSDAY, June 3, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The first comprehensive U.S. government report on drownings finds that pools can be dangerous but natural water settings are deadlier, and the problem is especially acute for young boys.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that males were nearly five times as likely to die by drowning than females, and that the "nonfatal drowning" rate was almost twice as high. According to the report, 82.7 percent of drowning victims were males.

During 2001-2002, the CDC reports, 4,174 people were treated in emergency rooms for unintentional drowning, and 3,372 died. Children under the age of 4 accounted for half the hospital visits, and kids between the ages of 5 and 14 accounted for another 25 percent.

The report, appearing in the June 4 issue of the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, said that 75 percent of the nonfatal injuries occurred in pools, but that 70 percent of the deaths took place in natural settings like oceans, rivers, and lakes.

Nearly four in 10 nonfatal injuries to children under age 4 happened in private pools, prompting officials to urge owners to install a four-sided pool fence that's at least 4 feet high.

Health officials also recommend that owners remove all toys from the pool so as not to entice a young child to the water. In natural bodies of water, they recommend knowing the weather conditions before swimming or boating, and using Coast Guard-approved life jackets.

More information

Learn more about drowning prevention from the CDC.

SOURCE: June 4, 2004, CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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