The drowning stats for May 2024 are here. Unfortunately, they paint a rather bleak picture. Recent reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Total Aquatic Programming indicate a troubling resurgence in drowning incidents over the past year. During last month, the group that was most at risk turned out to be tourists who ran into trouble in the open water.

What are These Numbers?

Each month, Total Aquatic Programming diligently tracks and analyzes drowning incidents across the country. The data collected includes various details such as the date, location, age, gender, ethnicity of the victim, body of water, and other relevant circumstances. When analyzed, these insights provide valuable information to understanding these preventable aquatic tragedies.

Diving Deeper Into the Drowning Stats for May 2024

According to the World Health Organization, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury and death worldwide, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths. Across the United States, the CDC reports that drowning is the leading cause of death for children under the age of four. One area that showed a serious increase in the drowning stats for May 2024 is a particular group: tourists.

Tourists in Unfamiliar Open Water: A Major Concern

The past month’s national statistics show that an alarming 88% of drowning incidents involving tourists occur in open water. In a way, this is not surprising. There are several factors that can contribute to such an increase in this one particular group.


Risky Behavior

Let’s start with an obvious issue for vacationers: engaging in risky behavior. When it comes to playing it safe, tourists tend to be a bit more focused on having a good time. As we’ve seen from the drowning stats for May 2024, this can have deadly consequences.

Beware the Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Swimming

First of all, drinking and vacations often go hand-in-hand. As we’ve written in the past, drinking and swimming should never be mixed. Being under the influence can impair a person’s judgement. To make matters worse, many tourists often engage in high-risk activities like jet-skiing or cliff jumping. When combined with alcohol, these already hazardous activities become even more unsafe.


Not Paying Attention to Dangerous Water Conditions

Teen Drowning Danger: Don’t Take the Dare!

Another reason could be that tourists on open water simply lack general knowledge of local currents, tides, or even dangerous undertows. Depending on the location, there could also be a language barrier between the swimmers and their would-be-rescuers. This can make a perilous situation even worse due to a lack of safety briefings, an inability to read posted warnings or simply poor communication with other nearby swimmers.


Overconfidence and Tragic Consequences

When reveling on vacation, many people throw inhibition to the wind. This can, and often does, lead to exaggerated false confidence in swimming abilities. This is even worse when on the open, unpredictable water. Even a competent swimmer can quickly find him or herself in a dangerous situation.


Using Poor Quality Gear

When at a resort or boating, using the wrong gear can be fatal. For this reason, all equipment should be checked and double-checked for safety. Only wear a life jacket that meets the strict specifications of the United States Coast Guard. Beyond that, poor quality rental gear or equipment that hasn’t been properly maintained poses serious hazards for the open water.

Using Life Jackets for Toddlers


Swimming Alone or Without a Life Guard

While the drowning stats for May 2024 focus on the United States, don’t underestimate how many domestic resorts are in remote locations. In the open water, some tourist spots can be in isolated areas far from immediate rescue services.

Boating Safety Spotlight: Lessons from a Miami River Drowning

No one should ever swim without a lifeguard present. Sparse lifeguard coverage and longer response times can easily lead to catastrophe.


Lessons for Tourists: Moving Forward

The high percentage of tourist drownings in open water underscores the need for urgent action. As seen in the drowning stats for May 2024, concerted efforts are clearly required to address this issue. Enhanced education, better safety protocols, and increased lifeguard presence are crucial steps in preventing further tragedies.