Why are men more prone to drowning than women?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 80% of people who die from drowning are men. And long-term data also shows that men are more likely to drown than women.

Frank Farley, a lecturer in the Laura H. Carnell Department of Educational Psychology at Temple University, examined data from the Carnegie Hero Foundation. Since the organization began giving awards in 1904, many people have received awards for saving people from drowning.

“Water is where you meet the most heroes,” says Farley. “The ratio of male heroes here is 10:1.”

Trying to help someone struggling in the water is one reason men may be more likely to drown. But there are many other reasons why men might put themselves in dangerous water situations, including less risk aversion.

“Men are more likely to take risks,” says Linda Quan, an emergency physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. “They swam outside the protected area. They rarely wear life jackets. They can do more risky things, like jumping from a height.”

Farley said the data he’s seen also backs this up.

Why are men more prone to drowning than women?
Trying to help someone struggling in the water is one reason men may be more likely to drown.

“Drowning is quite a physical problem,” he said. “History has shown that men have a physical advantage (with risks).”

Research shows that men think about possible risk scenarios differently than women . So they may be less aware of the danger.

They often underestimate the risk and are a bit overconfident in their underwater skills.

“They often think, ‘Oh, I can swim. I’m a good swimmer”, when it turns out they may not be,’ says Dr. Quan said. “They don’t care much about overestimating their capabilities and underestimating the risks.”

What’s more, men are more likely to be pressured by friends and more likely to drink while swimming – both of which make them more susceptible to dangerous situations.

“Alcohol” , BS. “Poison your judgment and poison a bunch of other things that are helpful in swimming, like balance,” says Quan.

While it may sound like experts are being too strict with men, Dr. Quan said a lot of recent studies show that men and women have different brain responses. There is a physiological reason behind all these choices.

“Men take longer to develop judgment and risk assessment skills. These brain centers take longer to develop in men, most until the age of 30.”

Of all the age groups, teenage boys are most susceptible to drowning.

But this information should not make people despair. There’s a lot you can do to encourage both men and women to stay safe in the water – especially the use of life jackets, something that should be done automatically like a seat belt.

What can parents do to keep their son safe? They should start early by telling children things like: “Here are the do’s and don’ts. We will wear life jackets. We will learn to swim. We will swim near lifeguards and we will not drink alcohol.”

Setting clear and firm boundaries about swimming from an early age means that both boys and girls will instinctively make smarter decisions.

“We need to make it all part of the culture so it’s automatic and there’s not much room for discretion,” says Dr. Quan said.