Drowning: It’s killing NJ adults, and it doesn’t have to
Drowning is one of the most preventable causes of death in the United States, and new data shows an alarming trend in the Garden State.
According to the research from the United States Swim School Association, which tracked media reported drownings between Memorial Day and Labor Day this year, New Jersey skews against the norm for the types of incidents and victims.
Across the nation, overall, there were 1,114 drownings in 2015. That is slightly down from the 1,126 in 2014.
New Jersey had 20 reported incidents, putting the state in the middle of the pack. Texas (48), California (38), and Florida (38) topped the list.
USSSA Executive Director Sue Mackey said unlike most of the states with a high number of incidents, the bulk of New Jersey's victims were adults.
"The majority of the drowning victims have been over the age of 18," she said.
The total number of child drownings was 461 nationwide. Six of those cases took place in New Jersey.
Mackey said there are number of factors that lead to New Jersey's high concentration of adult drownings.
"It appears in New Jersey that it's adults that obviously don't know how to swim or they're just not being careful," she said. "When it's older adults like this, it tends to be people being reckless and thinking that they have the skills, and they really don't."
She said this behavior can often include people drinking, being out on the open water without a swim vest, and overestimating their own swimming ability.
Mackey said members of her group are proponents of year-round swimming lessons and wearing Coast Guard-approved life vests for adults and kids.
She said awareness and vigilance is also vital, especially when it comes to watching children in swimming pools.
Those issues can often arise from parents passively monitoring children in the pools. Mackey recommends designated an active and alert water-watcher at all times.
"I don't think parents pay as close of attention as they could or they should," she said.