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Environmental Deaths

Environmental deaths include drowning, lightning, hypothermia, and hyperthermia. Elaborate on each. Choose a state in the United States, and research the rates of occurrence of these types of deaths in that state.
After determining the rate of occurrence, break the occurrences down into age groups, race, and sex.
The investigative approach in homicide vs. natural causes.

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I have explained in details the various environmental deaths due to drowning, lightning, hypothermia and hyperthermia. The references mentioned below each topic gives the studies performed and various death statistics in United States mainly. Please also refer to the attached PowerPoint slides and Ms Word document for tables and graphs showing environmental deaths in particular US states.

World Health Organization (WHO) defines drowning as "the process of experiencing respiratory impairment from submersion/immersion in a liquid". There can be complete recovery or death due to the process of drowning. Surviving victims often experience long-term physical and mental trauma. The surprising fact is that most cases of drowning happen at distances where the drowning can be prevented for instance in the bathtub, edge of pool or the shoreline of the beach. The accessibility of air to the lungs is blocked because the drowning person cannot breathe underwater that's why the victim dies out of suffocation. Any tissue of the human body needs a constant supply of oxygen and when that fails infarction of the tissue happens leading to organ damage. Brain damage occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen for more than six minutes.

More than 300,000 drowning incidents are reported by the world health organization where as in United States alone approximately on an average 40,000 people get drowned every year. It is hard to get data on drowning survivors because in most countries survival data is not collected. In the United States of America drowning ranks as the third most accidental death happening every year. Among school children in United States drowning is the second most leading cause of death and among preschoolers it ranks first. Swimming pools results in more than half of the cases of drowning out of which 1/3rd of these victims died while taking swimming lessons. Infants get drowned in bathtub because they are unable to raise their head because they lack muscle coordination and cannot raise their head above water level in a bathtub. Children aged 1-4 years most often drown in swimming pools. As children grow older the percentage of these children dying in natural water bodies like lakes, ponds starts rising. For those older than age 15, 65% of drownings occur in natural water. Alcohol is a factor in up to half of adolescent and adult drowning deaths.

It is the lack of oxygen resulting from suffocation that ultimately kills the victim. These drowning persons usually die within few minutes due to oxygen deprivation. In special cases when a victim gets submerged in very cold water the dying process might even take a few hours because cold temperature slows down the body metabolism, that's why the residual oxygen left in the body can keep the organs functioning for even an hour. This phenomenon is known as the mammalian dive reflex, which is activated when the face and body plunge into ice-cold water. The mammalian diving reflex is most well developed in children, and gradually decreases with age. The drowning victim may appear deceased since the heart may be beating so slowly that rescuers cannot count a heartbeat, and blood pressure may drop so low it cannot be detected. It is very important to begin resuscitation attempts in this situation and not presume that the victim is deceased. This phenomenon is not applicable for victims who have gradually become cold due to hypothermia as a result of lying in water for prolonged time.

Some of the factors below are responsible for drowning:
- Children usually die due to lack of vigilance from the supervisors. According to statistics whose children who have been left out of sight for more than 5 minutes have the highest rate of getting drowned.
- Lack of floatation devices in many pools are the reason for drowning in swimming pools.
- Lot of times parent influenced child abuse or child neglect can result in drowning.
- Alcohol consumption during swimming in teenagers and inability to swim can also lead to drowning.
- Swimming causes exhaustion and that can result in drowning.
- Head injury due to jumping into a shallow water can lead to drowning.
- Scuba diving accidents result in drowning.
- Suicide caused drowning.
- Medical ...

Solution Summary

The material above explains in details the various types of environmental deaths due to drowning, lightning strike, hypothermia and hyperthermia. Also shown are the statistics and graphs showing deaths in different U.S. states.