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Writing to the editor is not always in vain
After cajoling from the Washington State Drowning Prevention Project, newspapers in the area increased the coverage they gave to fatal and non-fatal submersion injuries. It was also found that newspapers, as a general surveillance tool for submersion injuries, may not be useful.
Organisers of the project hoped that newspapers could identify fatal and non-fatal submersion victims more rapidly than death certificates and hospital discharge data, which, although useful for mortality surveillance, may not provide adequate information to help future injury prevention.
In 1995, the organisers sent a letter to 225 newspapers in Washington State urging them to report submersion injuries, particularly those involving children and adolescents. They were also encouraged to report information related to prevention, such as life vest use, level of supervision and alcohol use. Comparing the data for before and after the letter was sent showed an increase in the proportion of fatal submersions reported in newspapers—from 49% to 56% for …