After a concerning number of drownings this spring, King County officials urge caution at rivers, lakes, and Puget Sound

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

After a concerning number of drownings and close calls this spring, King County officials are encouraging the public to be cautious during Independence Day at rivers, lakes, and Puget Sound.

At least 12 people in King County have drowned so far this year after the total number last year nearly doubled from 2018. 

Black residents in King County – who have less access to pools and swimming lessons – are two-and-a-half times more likely to drown than white residents. Recent immigrants and people who are unfamiliar with the region’s colder, swifter waters are also at greater risk due to language and cultural barriers.

The nationwide shortage of lifeguards has increased risks at local lakes. Rivers are particularly dangerous this time of year because people are looking for ways to cool off but the water in rivers can still be extremely cold, which can cause even strong swimmers to quickly lose stamina and experience hypothermia.

Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 4 in King County. Last year, 29 people drowned from preventable situations in King County, nearly twice the number of drownings that occurred in 2018.


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