PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — It was a deadly month in Rhode Island waters.
The Rhode Island Department of Health tells 12 News that, while there have been less than five confirmed drownings so far this year, and at least three of them happened in July.
The first happened on July 9, when a Woonsocket man drowned in the Wenscott Reservoir while trying to rescue two distressed canoers. The man succumbed to exhaustion while swimming back to shore, and his body was found by divers a few days later.
The second took place on July 13, when an East Greenwich woman vanished while night swimming at Conimicut Point Beach. She was eventually found by first responders and rushed to the hospital where she later died.
The third occurred on July 18, when a Cranston man died trying to rescue two struggling swimmers at Scarborough State Beach.
The 15-year-old’s exact cause of death remains under investigation by the state medical examiner, according to the Health Department.
The state medical examiner is also still determining the cause of death for a child who was found unresponsive in a pool on Friday. 12 News has reached out for more information on the child’s death, but has not yet heard back.
Despite the frequency, the Health Department tells 12 News that the number of drownings is much less than previous years.
There were 20 drownings reported statewide last year, and 19 the year prior, according to the Health Department. Data indicates that most of the state’s drownings happen in June, July and August, and majority of the victims from the last five years were men.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following advice to prevent drownings:
- Learn basic swimming and water safety skills. Formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning.
- Ensure your pool is fully enclosed. Make sure your swimming pool is completely surrounded by fencing and can’t be easily accessed by children.
- Supervise children closely while swimming. An adult should always supervise a child while they’re swimming and should be free from distractions, since drownings happen quickly and quietly.
- Wear a life jacket. Life jackets reduce the risk of drowning while boating for people of all ages and swimming abilities. Weaker swimmers should also consider wearing a life jacket while in the water.
- Learn CPR in case of an emergency. Knowing CPR could make a difference and save someone’s life in the time it takes for paramedics to arrive.
- Know the risks of swimming in lakes, rivers and oceans. Natural waters have hidden hazards such as dangerous currents or waves, rocks or vegetation and limited visibility. Pay attention to the forecast before swimming, since the weather can change quickly and create hazardous conditions.
- Avoid drinking alcohol while swimming. Alcohol impairs judgement, balance and coordination.
- Use the buddy system. Never swim alone and prioritize sites where lifeguards are on duty.
- Take extra precautions for medical conditions. Certain medical conditions can increase a person’s risk of drowning, such as seizure disorders and epilepsy.
- Consider the side effects of medications. Avoid swimming while taking medications that can impair your balance, coordination and judgement.
- Don’t hyperventilate or hold your breath for a long time. This can cause a swimmer to pass out and drown.