209398 Drowning deaths in New Jersey, 1999-2007

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 9:30 AM

Bretta Jacquemin, MPH , Center for Health Statistics, Office of Injury Surveillance and Prevention, New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Trenton, NJ
Background: Drownings are much less common than other injuries but the inherent high fatality rate makes them particularly traumatic for communities. New Jersey's relatively high percentage of water as part of the environment means that drowning risk is not limited to bathtubs, swimming pools and beaches. Methods: New Jersey medical examiner data from 1999 to 2007 were used to analyze the characteristics of drownings in New Jersey. All deaths categorized as unintentional “drowning” or “submersion” were assessed for victim and location characteristics. Intoxication was determined by toxicology results or narrative mentions. Results: Drowning victims were more likely to be male than female, in greater proportion than other unintentional injury deaths. Drowning location varied greatly by age, with children more likely to drown in pools/hot tubs and the elderly more likely to drown in bathtubs. Pools/hot tubs and open water (bays, sounds, the Atlantic Ocean) each accounted for approximately one fifth of drowning deaths. Among victims age 15 and over, alcohol was a contributing factor in about 25% of deaths. Locations with the highest percentage of alcohol-related deaths were places where people most likely entered the water unintentionally (e.g., streams, harbors). Drowning deaths occurred during motor vehicle crashes, natural disasters, boating accidents, work-related falls, and many unknown reasons. Health status was a frequent contributor to the risk of drowning death.

Conclusions: Because of the ubiquity of water in New Jersey and the lethality of drowning, water safety awareness campaigns should emphasize the primary prevention of drowning for all ages.

Learning Objectives:
Identify scope of drowning fatalities in New Jersey. Describe differences in residential drownings versus drownings in outdoor settings. Discuss case fatality rate as a factor for raising awareness of drowning for visitors to New Jersey recreational waters.

Keywords: Water, Injuries

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I created the dataset and performed all analyses.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.