Spain’s Health Ministry issues drowning prevention advice as 406 deaths were reported in latest annual statistics

Lifeguard on the beach of Oliva. / LP

The department says many accidents can be avoided by following a series of recommendations, and pointed out that tourists unfamiliar with the risks and peculiarities of local waters are often involved in such incidents.

Drowning was the third leading cause of death in Spain from external causes in 2020, being particularly relevant in younger population groups, according to the latest data published by the National Institute of Statistics.

In 2020, some 406 people died in Spain – 334 men and 72 women – from serious aquatic injuries and 461 people were hospitalized in connection with drowning.

In addition to drownings, there are cases of head and spinal injuries every year, usually caused by careless acts such as diving from too great a height, not checking the depth of the water or, in the case of swimming pools, diving too close to the edge.

In 2020, some 61 people were hospitalized from injuries caused by jumps or head-first dives into water – excluding falls – and eight hospitalizations were for spinal cord injuries.

World Drowning Prevention Day

The Department of Health has released advice on how to stay safe on World Drowning Prevention Day, which was observed on July 25.

“Risk behaviors related to drowning tend to occur in times of relaxation in the supervision of minors, swimming in unsupervised areas, or the consumption of alcohol and other drugs near or in water. “, warned the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias.

Additionally, a significant number of water-related accidents are linked to medical conditions such as epilepsy. Tourists unfamiliar with the risks and peculiarities of local waters are also often involved in such accidents.

“Drownings happen quickly and quietly. Most times the victim has been out of sight for less than five minutes,” the health department said.

For this reason, the government recommends keeping an eye on children at all times when they are in or playing near water and not delegate this responsibility to an older child. Additionally, they insist on never leaving a baby or young child alone at any time in an inflatable tub or pool.

He also recommends making sure the pool is supervised and not running around the edge of the pool or playing push people and insisting that if you can’t swim or can’t swim well, use a life jacket when swimming and always use it. for water sports. Inflatable floats are not recommended.

On the beach, the health service asks users to respect the meaning of the flags and to always follow the instructions of the lifeguards. She also recommends that, if a person feels swept away by a current, they swim parallel to the beach and, once out of the current, swim towards shore.

In addition, the department notes that alcohol consumption reduces the ability to react to danger and that it is very dangerous to bathe at night.

It also reminds that diving head-first from great heights, from bridges, trees or balconies, can cause very serious injuries and that inflatable objects must be used with caution, as they can quickly drag users out to sea. .

The Department of Health says knowledge of basic first aid can contribute to a better response to aquatic emergencies.

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