Drowning More Probable in Rural Areas, Study Finds

Drowning More Probable in Rural Areas, Study Finds

TUESDAY, Dec. 3, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- People in rural areas are nearly three times more likely to drown than those who live in cities, a new Canadian study finds.

This may be because rural residents are more likely to be around open water and less likely to have taken swimming lessons, according to the researchers at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.

Their findings -- from an analysis of drowning incidents in the province of Ontario between 2004 and 2008 -- appeared recently in the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education.

A second study by the St. Michael's researchers found that most drowning incidents occur in public places, such as open water, recreation centers or parks. Even so, four out of five drownings happen without a witness, according to the study, which was published recently in the Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine.

The researchers also found that bystanders perform CPR in half of all drowning events, but only for one-third of all other cardiac arrests. This may be due to the fact that most Canadians first learn CPR in swimming classes and are more likely to associate drowning and CPR, the researchers suggested.

Despite being more likely to receive CPR, a drowning victim's 5 percent chance of survival is as low as all other types of cardiac arrest. This finding shows that more needs to be done to improve the survival chances of drowning victims, study author Jason Buick said in a hospital news release.

"We can improve survival by emphasizing the importance of providing CPR and by teaching more people to perform it," Buick said.

He also advised people to swim in public places where it's more likely that there will be lifeguards and other people.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about drowning.

SOURCE: St. Michael's Hospital, news release, November 2013