Drowning: how many deaths by drowning were there in France in 2021?


During the summer of 2021, 1,480 accidental drownings were recorded, that is 10% less than in 2018. Of these drownings, 27% resulted in death. The opportunity for the Ministry of Health and Prevention to recall certain essential safety gestures, for children, but also for adults.

Drownings: all places and all ages

The survey is based on information collected from the emergency services (in particular firefighters, Samu-Smur). In the press release, Santé Publique France specifies that “drowning is taken into account if there is intervention by organized rescue, followed by hospital care (passage to the emergency room, hospitalization) or death.” Thereby, in the summer of 2021, 1,480 accidental drownings took place. Among them, 2 2% involved children under 6 and 26% involved adults over 65. Deaths were more common among people over 65 (41%).
Regarding the place of the drownings, 47% occur at sea26% in a swimming pool, 23% in a stream or body of water and 4% in other places such as a bathtub.

How to avoid drowning?

The Ministry of Health and Prevention recalls the essential safety gestures. In general, it is important to take into account his state of health and his form. It is also better avoid swimming if you feel a physical disorder (fatigue or aches for example). Do not hesitate to make an appointment with your general practitioner to assess your ability to swim.

Regarding children:

  • Teach children to swim as early as possible and familiarize them with aquatic ease from an early age
  • Supervise children at all timesalways stay close to them when they are playing by the water and bathe with them when they are in the water
  • Each child must be constantly and closely supervised by a single adult who takes responsibility for them during swimming time.
  • Wear a special vigilance when swimming in “above-ground” pools (not buried) which do not have a safety device

Regarding adults:

  • It’s never too late to start or start again learn to swim
  • Consider the bathing environmentespecially in waterways, bodies of water and at sea. Find out about the weather conditions and, in general, respect the safety instructions, bathing bans and swim in the supervised areas indicated by the bathing flags, where the intervention of rescue teams is faster
  • Notify a relative before swimming
  • Get into the water gradually especially after long exposure to the sun
  • Do not consume alcohol before swimming

Drowning: adopt a fluorescent swimsuit to avoid it

According to a study conducted by a water safety consulting firm and reported on the US Huffpost, the color of the children’s swimsuit can prevent drowning. In fact, depending on where you are swimming, certain colors of swimsuits make it easier to see the child bathing. The study was conducted in swimming pools with calm then moving water, the water was sometimes clear, sometimes dark. The scientists also did these same tests in a lake and from various vantage points. Various fabric colors were used: white, light blue, dark blue, purple, fushia, yellow, orange, red, several shades of green, gray and black. Results ? Flashy colors such as neon orange, neon green and neon yellow are the most noticeable, whether in calm waters or moving waters. On the other hand, in deep water in a lake, it is very difficult to distinguish anything. Thus, it is strongly recommended to accompany the child for swimming and to put on a life jacket and armbands.

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