Drowning Deaths in Greece Alarm Authorities, Swimmers Advised


(Photo by Eurokinissi)

With Greece among the European Union countries with the most road deaths per capita, the startling number of people who die by drowning has health officials telling swimmers not to overestimate their abilities and heed other warnings about being in the water.

There were 413 drownings in Greece in 2018, compared to 400 in Italy, which has six times the population, with most of the deaths occurring within 10 meters (10.96 yards) from the beach and relatively few at distances of 50 meters (54.68 yards) or more. The Hellenic Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, said the biggest problem is that most people think they are better swimmers and aren't able to confront a problem in the water when it happens. Greece's drowning death numbers per capita is among the world's highest.

The group advised never to swim alone, not to swim if they are in a bad physical or mental state, to wait three hours after a heavy meal, and never to swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Beaches are among Greece's biggest attractions for tourists as well as Greeks and residents in the country who flock to them during the summer, the country having some of the best in the world, but few with lifeguards.

The ages most at risk from drowning were very young children and the elderly, who tended to drown as a result of heart attacks with drowning the second highest cause of death after road accidents each summer in Greece.

Showing how serious the problem is, four people drowned in three incidents on July 3, including a 97-year-old unconscious man pulled from the water on the beach Kalogria near Patras and pronounced dead at the local hospital.

In the regional unit of Achaia, a 64-year-old died while swimming at the beach of Aghios Georgios, near Egio, and two more men, aged 79 and 57, drowned on the island of Aegina.

The World Health Organization said drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide, accounting for 7% of all injury-related deaths and more than 360,000 deaths, or 986 a day, and with fears are underreported.