Balance Fun and Safety to Enjoy Recreational Water Activities: CDC Study Shows Impact of Water Dangers

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Pools, lakes, and oceans can provide hours of summer fun and physical activity, but recreational waters can also be dangerous. In 2001, more than 3300 people drowned and 4,100 people were treated in an emergency department for water-related injuries in the United States according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study released Thursday, June 3.

"Recreational water sites are wonderful places for family fun and physical activity," said CDC Injury Center Acting Director Dr. Ileana Arias. "Balancing the risks means keeping your family safe by choosing locations with life-guards, using Coast Guard-approved personal floatation devices, supervising children and avoiding alcohol use. Take advantage of local swimming lessons and CPR classes for added safety around the water."

Effective drowning prevention strategies are:

  • Make sure an adult is constantly watching children swimming or playing in or around the water. Do not read, play cards, talk on the phone, mow the lawn, or do any other distracting activity while supervising children around water.

  • Install four-sided pool fencing to prevent a child's unsupervised access to pools. Additionally, gate locks, weight bearing covers, and alarms may also help.

  • Choose a site with lifeguards whenever possible.


  • Consistent use of Coast Guard-approved personal floatation devices in and around recreational water activities can help if someone falls in or steps unexpectedly into an underwater drop off.

  • Avoid alcohol use before and during aquatic activities. Alcohol impairs balance, coordination and judgment.

  • Swimming instruction and water safety training can help people prepare for hazardous water environments (such as currents, rip currents, waves and underwater obstacles like riverbed rocks).

  • Know CPR - studies have shown that by-standers can help to save lives by starting CPR before emergency response teams arrive.


For more information on injury prevention, visit CDC's website at