Minnesota drownings increase this summer

The DNR urges people to swim in waters overseen by lifeguards.
The DNR urges people to swim in waters overseen by lifeguards.

Minnesota has seen one of the highest rates of drownings across the state in a decade, reports the Pioneer Press.

At least 25 people have died of drownings not related to boating, according to data the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources collected through July 1. Eight of these deaths were in the Twin Cities metro area. That's almost double last year, when there were only 13 statewide.

Part of the reason for the increase in deaths could be that more people are going to the lakes because of the scorching weather we've had.

"We are way higher than years past,"  Tim Smalley, DNR water safety specialist, told the Pi-Press. "There's just been more exposure. It's been a hot summer and an early hot summer, and when it's hot, people go to the water."

According to the article, the causes have been typical precursors to drowning: swimmers who overestimate their ability, mixing alcohol with water activities, and not enough adult supervision of children in the water.

"Those are always kind of the big three you can point to," Smalley said.

There are several ways of decreasing the risk of drowning, according to Susan Grundeen, beach safety coordinator for the Three Rivers Park District. Distractions like cell phones, magazines and books should be avoided when children and companions are in the water. Life jackets are also important to wear, regardless of whether one is a good swimmer. And finally, swimming in places overseen by lifeguards is key.

Only one and possibly two of the nonboating-related drownings in 2012 were at guarded locations, according to the DNR.

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