Tips to prevent drowning in 2021

Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 12:28 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - It’s the season for barbecues, boats, and lots of time in the water, but after a Perrysburg man drowned on Friday night, experts are asking everyone to practice summer safety.

So often, the conversation about drowning prevention centers around toddlers in pools, but people of any age can drown, and these days, it’s much more common to drown in open water.

“People often have an assumption that knowing how to swim means you couldn’t drown,” says Dave Benjamin. “66% of all drowning victims were good, strong, competent swimmers.”

There are a lot of misconceptions about drowning.

Dave Benjamin, founder and executive director at the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, works to educate people about the dangers of drowning in the Great Lakes.

“54% of Americans who say they know how to swim, don’t have the basic swimming ability or swimming endurance to swim,” he says.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80% of all drowning victims are men.

Unfortunately, we have these men skills. Males are more likely to take risks, more susceptible to peer pressure, and more likely to overestimate their abilities,” says Benjamin.

Men are also more likely to mix alcohol and swimming. According to the U.S. Coast Guard in Toledo, that’s a major contributing factor in our area.

“Dangers of drowning in adults, especially in this area, is probably drinking, not paying attention, going out by yourself late at night, thinking that you’re safer than you are,” says BM3 Aaron Tannatta.

Benjamin also warns that drowning doesn’t look the way it does in the movies.

“The person is typically facing shore, their mouth at water level, head tilted back, and their body is vertical, and they’re doing this ladder climbing motion, or pawing with their hands at both sides,” he says.

So what to do in an emergency?

If someone else is drowning, get them a flotation device immediately. If you’re the one in danger, flip over, float on your back, and follow a safe path out of the water. And most importantly, stay calm.

“Panic is the first stage of drowning,” says Benjamin.

For more of Benjamin’s Great Lakes safety tips, visit the website. Or, watch the organization’s newest safety video.

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