Emergency services attend to a drowning incident. | Michel's


So far this summer, 24 people have died due to drowning in the Balearics, 47 cases having been attended to by emergency services. Thirty per cent of these cases have been children under the age of seven, almost always when they weren't being supervised by an adult. Two children have died, the medical director of the SAMU 061 emergency service, Txema Álvarez, saying that it is a worrying pattern that is repeated every summer. It is almost always avoidable, but some parents have a tendency to switch off when they come on holiday.

Álvarez fears that, in total, 2022 will match 2017 for the worst record. In 2017, there were 115 emergency calls and 69 people died. In July this year, the same number of deaths from drowning have already been recorded in the Balearics as for the whole 2021 summer season, albeit that 2021 was a far quieter season.

The most common profile is male between 40 and 65. A quarter of cases are related to consumption of drugs or alcohol. Drowning incidents most frequently occur between 3pm and 5pm. Álvarez suggests that this may be because the level of attention has been reduced, as "caregivers are resting or eating". However, there is another issue, which has to do with sudden immersion in water after a long period exposed to the sun.

"If you dive into a cold temperature after a lot of heat, it lowers blood pressure, arrhythmias can occur." In addition, the body's reaction is related to the timing of a meal. "After eating, the blood goes to the organs that help with digestion and the flow to the main arteries decreases" Getting into the water lowers the heart rate and the presence of blood, especially in the small arteries.

Dr. Álvarez says that it isn't necessary to abide by the old advice of waiting two hours after eating before taking a dip but that precaution should be taken - "getting into the water little by little so that the body adapts or by having a shower". "Recommendations at swimming pools are not a whim."