Drowning is a public health problem globally, with over 90% of deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries . Unintentional drowning was estimated to cause about 295,210 deaths in 2017worldwide. The true burden of drowning is expected to be much higher owing to challenges in classification, reporting and data collection. The World Health Organization has identified several interventions to prevent deaths due to unintentional drowning, including the use of life jacket in high-risk recreational and occupational settings.
Despite substantial evidence on the effectiveness of life jackets and the subsequent adoption of laws in several countries, the use of life jackets has largely remained low, including in high-income countries.However, there has been no qualitative synthesis of evidence to understand the context and internal perceptions and experiences that may influence life-jacket use. The study, published in Journal of Safety Research this week filled this important knowledge gap and found :
- Life jacket use was shaped through complex interactions between lived experience and cultural norms which influenced the risk-perception of life jacket utility in preventing deaths.
- The high cost of life jackets was almost always a barrier for its usage
- Adoption of laws and its subsequent enforcement was perceived to be an important facilitator for life jacket use.
- Design issues around comfort, fashion-sense, and shelf life influenced usage of life-jackets