National Drowning Prevention Alliance
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        “Community Lifesaver” Award 2016 & 2018

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GL Drownings Surpass 400-Drowning US Epidemic

Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Dave Benjamin, Executive Director, 708-903-0166,
Bob Pratt, Executive Director of Education, 517-643-2553, 

Great Lakes drownings surpass 400 since 2010

Latest Chicago drowning is the 403rd

Just the tip of the iceberg of a national drowning epidemic 

GREAT LAKES, USA – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) announces its current drowning statistics. In 2015, the GLSRP has tracked 19 Great Lakes drownings.  Overall since 2010, the GLSRP has tracked 403 Great Lakes drownings.  Full statistics here (74 drownings in 2010; 87 in 2011; 101 in 2012, 68 in 2013, 54 in 2014, and 19 to date in 2015).

“This is a tragic milestone that should sever as a wake-up call to beach-goers and water sports enthusiasts,” said Bob Pratt GLSRP executive director. “With all the water in the Great Lakes region we should have a comprehensive water safety program in all of our schools.”

“Although drownings in the Great Lakes have been decreasing the last several years, we could possibly expect to see a spike in drownings between now and the end of the summer,” said Dave Benjamin, GLSRP executive director.  “It’s been a wet and cool spring and summer so far, but now the air and water temps are in full summer swing.  People may push their limits before the end of the summer vacation swimming and boating season.”

The Great Lakes drownings are just the smallest tip of the actual drowning epidemic.

This year the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report that states that drowning remains a “neglected public health issue” that’s still happening with alarming frequency around the world and according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) drowning is a leading cause of accidental death.

“Unfortunately water safety and drowning survival does not get the attention that it deserves,” said Benjamin.  “The WHO speaks about drowning and very few seem to listen.”

“When we look at safety measures as a whole, water safety gets very little funding or implementation.  In schools today there are fire drills, tornado drills, school shooter drills, and even earthquake drills in Illinois.”

“Unfortunately though, each year more school aged children will die drowning in the United States each year than in fires, tornadoes, school shooters, and earthquakes combined.”

“A water safety school curriculum is the fastest way to reach the largest audience in the shortest amount of time.  So when is America going to get it?”

Since June of 2011, the GLSRP has performed over 145 Great Lakes Water Safety presentations in 7 of the 8 Great Lakes states despite very little funding.

“Through my five years of water safety advocacy and my observation of the culture of water safety, it seems that there is this ‘Vicious Cycle of the Drowning Epidemic’ that will continue to purport drowning as a leading cause of accidental death until we really confront it head on.  I see a water safety school curriculum as that head on confrontation.”

An Overview – The Vicious Cycle of the Drowning Epidemic

  • Drowning is a neglected public health issue
  • Each year millions of dollars are spent to bring more people to water
  • People who do not know that drowning is a leading cause of accidental death
  • People who do not have the basic swimming skills to save their own lives in a water emergency
  • People who unknowingly support the Stigma of Drowning
  • Drowning continues to be a neglected public issue
  • Each year millions of dollars continue to be spent to bring more people to water… AND IT REPEATS!

GLSRP Drowning Statistics
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The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Inc. (GLSRP) is about saving lives.  It is a nonprofit 501c3 corporation that is a Chapter of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA).


  1. Tracks the Great Lakes drowning statistics (403 since 2010)
  2. Teaches “Great Lakes Water Safety” classes (Over 145 classes since 2011)
  3. Works with family and friends  of Great Lakes drowning victims to advocate water safety.
  4. Hosts Surf Lifeguard Certification courses (pics)