The death of an 8-year-old boy, suffered after an accident in a cruise ship swimming pool, is a terrible tragedy. Swimming pools, water parks and other aquatic attractions are commonplace in Florida. Hotels, resorts and cruise ships use them to lure tourists from all over the world. While the water can be a source of entertainment, it demands a level of care from providers. When a pool owner is negligent, the result can be a drowning death or severe injuries from a nonfatal submersion.

The risk of drowning is present for everyone. Even strong swimmers can drown under the wrong circumstances. That said, there are common factors tied to many drowning incidents. Understanding the risk factors can help you keep your family safe in and around the water.

The Typical Drowning Victim

People over the age of 14 make up 80 percent of drowning victims. That said, drowning rates are highest among children between the ages of 1 and 4. Males are nearly 4 times more likely to die from drowning than females. Drowning rates are substantially higher for African-Americans than for whites, particularly in accidents involving swimming pools. Unsurprisingly, the most common element among drowning victims is the lack of swimming ability. People who have never had swimming lessons or water safety instruction are at higher risk around water.

How To Reduce Drowning Accidents

The risk of a drowning accident is tied to several factors that can be controlled by pool owners, boaters and swimmers. First, there must be barriers placed around pools preventing young children from accessing them. Second, swimmers, particularly children, should be kept under close supervision. Third, boaters and others on open waterways should wear life jackets. Fourth, alcohol and water recreation don’t mix. If you have been drinking, you should avoid the water.

Thousands of people die in cases of unintentional drowning every year. Many of these tragedies are avoidable. With proper care and attention, drowning deaths and nonfatal drowning injuries could become extremely rare.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts,” July 2016