Supplement Feature - February 2013
Find a printable version here

Calm Water

Trends in Aquatic Health & Safety

By Wynn St. Clair

While the emotional toll of drowning is immeasurable, the financial cost is staggering, as well. According to a recent NSPF report, the lifetime medical costs for unintentional drowning deaths in 2005 in the United States totaled almost $13 million. Lifetime medical costs for non-fatal drowning in 2005 reached more than $82 million. If indirect costs such as lifetime productivity losses are included, the fatal and nonfatal costs to society top $4.6 billion and $600 million, respectively, the report said. This means that in a single year, the direct and indirect cost from fatal and nonfatal drowning is more than $5.3 billion.

"The emotional and psychological impact of drowning is absolutely devastating, and nothing can compare," Lachocki said. "But the financial impact can be incredibly high too."

In addition to helping keep people safe and healthy, there is also a very practical reason for aquatic managers and industry leaders to back the "Step into Swim" program. If half of Americans are afraid to swim, then they're also unlikely to take their families to pools and aquatic parks.

Teach them a person to swim and you're adding to your customer base.

"If you're an aquatic facility manager or in the industry and more than half of the market is closed off to you, that's not good for business," Lachocki said. "Teaching people to swim benefits the entire industry on many different levels."