Prevention campaigns to warn of the risk of drowning, which is on the rise

It often goes very quickly. A parent who looks away, an alcoholic swim, the one who convinces him that he can still reach the buoy. More than 300 accidental drownings have been recorded in France between 1er June and July 5, 79 of which resulted in deaths, according to the preliminary results of the 2021 survey by Public Health France. All required the intervention of the emergency services and gave rise to hospital treatment. A “high” number, which represents an increase of 22% for accidental drownings, and 58% of deaths compared to the figures recorded in 2018 over the same period, according to a statement from the health agency dated July 13 .

First explanation put forward: successive confinements. This period resulted for many “An alteration in physical condition due to less activity sometimes accompanied by weight gain” but also “A relaxation of vigilance”, explains Aymeric Ung, an expert from the health agency. “80% of drowning deaths took place in a natural bathing site”, he specifies. A high proportion which verifies, according to him, the hypothesis of a relaxation linked to deconfinement. “People tend to overestimate their own physical abilities, and to underestimate environmental risks like currents or rocks. ”

Among the age groups most affected by these accidents, people aged 65 and over account for 25% of drownings. “We regularly have the case of people who think they are still in the shape of their 20s, and challenge themselves without realizing the risk. They get out of breath, panic, and it can quickly become dangerous ”, notes Captain Delin, responsible for the beaches of SDIS 06 (Alpes-Maritimes). In that case, “We must focus on beaches with lifeguard stations, which indicate with flags whether swimming is safe, and swim parallel to the coast”, recalls the captain, who warns about the risk of discomfort for people of a certain age.

“Reinforce prevention”

Also in the sights of rescuers: young children (between 0 and 5 years old), who account for 21% of accidental drownings in the data of Public Health France. Deprived of municipal swimming pools due to the health crisis, many have not been able to learn to swim this year. But despite “A definite impact” of these closures on the“Aquatic ease” children, Aymeric Ung believes that they only affected “Marginally” this first summer review. “Drownings in young children are almost exclusively linked to a decrease or absence of the vigilance of the supervising adult”, he indicates. “A child can drown in 30 centimeters of water. And even with the armbands, the current quickly carried it off ”, abounds Captain Delin. He specifies that drownings are often the concern of “A few minutes where you look away”.

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