Thursday, June 30

Accidents. 394 people drowned last summer: figures and instructions from Public Health France

Between June 1 and September 30, 2021, 1,480 accidental drownings were recorded, of which 394 were fatal, reports the Drowning survey published this Tuesday by Public Health France. These figures are down from 2018, the year of the previous survey. That summer, 1,649 drownings had occurred, or 10% more.

According to the analysis of Public Health France, this difference is mainly explained by the weather, which was “not very favorable for swimming” in 2021, while it had been warmer and sunnier in 2018.

Accidents sometimes caused by the lack of activity in confinement

The survey also notes that during the first half of June 2021, more drownings were counted than over the same period in 2018. If the weather can be an explanation for variations from one week to another, Health public France reveals another cause: the “context of the lifting of the restrictive measures deployed for the management of the Covid-19 epidemic” could be linked to “a poor assessment by bathers of their physical abilities or a deterioration in the state of health at the end of a long period of confinement and less activity”.

Indeed, if we think especially of children who do not yet know how to swim, the survey shows that drownings are more often fatal among the elderly. Those over 65 are the most severely affected: among 377 drownings counted in this age group, 162 were fatal, while among those under 6, out of 331 drownings, 23 were fatal.

Areas far from the sea have a higher death rate

It is at sea that accidents are most frequent: 47% of drownings occur. On the other hand, the proportion of deaths is much higher among drownings that took place in a body of water (49%) or a watercourse (41%). The survey also reports that, if it is logically in the coastal regions that the most drownings occur, regions which are far from the sea such as the Grand Est and Bourgogne-France-Comté have a higher death rate. Public Health France puts forward a hypothesis to explain these figures: “In regions with a coastline, awareness and more numerous preventive actions against drowning could be an efficiency factor: if they do not prevent drowning, they reduce it. the proportion that are followed by death. Moreover, foreign people who spend their holidays in France are more victims of drowning, probably because of a misunderstanding of the signage.

The most common cause of drowning is a fall, especially in children under 6, for whom this reason is mentioned in 31% of cases. Then come malaise and exhaustion, which conversely concern the oldest people: this is the cause of 43% of drownings in the over-65s. Lack of supervision concerns 13% of drownings, and 44% in children under 6 years old. Not knowing how to swim is about as common. Finally, 11% of drownings are caused by currents or swims that can drag a swimmer along.

Public Health France recalls that according to its 2016 barometer, nearly one in six French people declare that they do not know how to swim, and more than 35% of people between 65 and 75 years old.

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