This book details the more than 4000 drowning deaths that occur each year in the United States. These deaths are associated not only with large bodies of water such as oceans, lakes, and rivers but also with built environments such as swimming pools, waterparks, and spas. These accidental drownings occur despite safety practices that have improved over time. The stated goal of the authors is to help prevent as many accidental drownings as possible. As an example, in the United States alone there are more than 10 million residential swimming pools. Each year about 500 children between the ages of 1 to 4 years old die from drowning in residential swimming pools. Because such losses are so tragic, there are concerted efforts to help ensure safety measures in home swimming pools. This book details the scope of aquatic accidents that run the gamut from types and causes of drownings from swimming pools, waterparks, hot tubs and spas, rip currents, shorebreaks, boating and diving accidents, snorkeling and scuba diving, surfing, and lake and river accidents. Not to be ignored are discussions of dangerous sea creatures, among which prominently include sharks, jellyfish, and stingrays.

Although this book is not an exegesis of drowning per se, its objective or intent is purposeful to the point that each chapter focuses on specific types of drowning, natural habitats, or built environments that may cause potential drowning hazards. This observation may be somewhat startling to some readers who normally do not associate drowning dangers with recreational facilities or celebrious natural aquatic settings that at first glance may appear sanguine or quite harmless. But the fact is, all aquatic environments, whether manmade or natural, pose potential dangers to unsuspecting users.

In addition to the authors featured on the cover of the book, authors and guest authors are identified in the contents for the following chapters: Drowning (S.B. Leatherman), Swimming Pools (S.B. Leatherman and A.H. Mittelstadt), Waterparks (S.P. Leatherman), Hot Tubs and Spas (S.P. Leatherman), Lifeguard Management (S.B. Leatherman), Aquatic Law and Risk Management (S.B. Leatherman), Rip Currents: Greatest Drowning Risk at Surf Beaches (S.P. Leatherman), Shorebreaks—Dangerous Breaking Waves (S.P. Leatherman), Boating Accidents (Mystic Duke), Diving Accidents (Debora Leatherman), Safe Snorkeling (Barbara Skinner), Scuba Diving Accidents (S.B. Leatherman), Surfing Accidents and Causes (Scott Stripling), Lake and River Accidents (Mystic Duke), Dangerous Sea Creatures: Sharks, Jellyfish and Stingrays (S.P. Leatherman), and Appendix: Swimming Pool Water Chemistry (A.H. Mittlestadt and S.B. Leatherman). Each chapter is followed by literary citations to traditional paper print (books and journals) but most commonly Internet websites for further follow-up. Essential topics are thus considered at various levels of investigation throughout the book and thus contribute to its novelty. A subject index would have been a useful adjunct to the presentation of this work.

The book contains black and white as well as color photographs in addition to color diagrams and other illustrations. A list of attributions is found at the end of the book on pages 137–139. This book is highly recommended for perusal by those who venture into natural coastal environments as well as water theme parks. Drownings associated with commercial, industrial, and military waterborne activities are not considered because they are beyond the already comprehensive scope of this work. Also included in the book are mentions of injuries that may or may not be related to drownings per se. A plethora of examples included in the chapter dealing with Scuba Diving Accidents viz. ear injuries, pulmonary barotrauma, decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis, hypothermia, and hyperthermia. This small paperback (139 pages) contains a wealth of useful information that makes it essential reading for those who are venturing into aquatic environments for the first time as well as those folks who consider themselves semiprofessionals. Even those people who grew up near aquatic settings or who are frequent visitors to natural and artificial water scenes (e.g., recreational aquatic theme parks) should occasionally peruse this book as a reminder to keep familiar with myriad aspects of potential threats and risks that can lead to a wide range of potential aquatic accidents, foremost among which are drownings. Having grown up on the western shore of Lake Michigan, this reviewer recalls that it was not possible for anyone to graduate from the New Trier Township High School (Winnetka, Illinois) without first passing a swimming test. At that time (ca. 1960s), with the campus a mere 304.8 m (∼1000 feet) or so from the shore of the lake, it was considered prudent for all graduates to know how to swim and learn to avoid various types of potential aquatic accidents.

The authors are to be congratulated for researching some obscure and otherwise hard to find data that normally is not readily available. Much information was obtained from online sources that contain up-to-date perspectives. Insight into the subject of aquatic accidents is provided by this primer that outlines essential concepts, principles, and, most importantly of all, it provides action items for those recreating or working in aquatic realms. Critical here is increased awareness of potential risks and hazards in and around aquatic environments so that unfortunate debilitating circumstances or tragic events can be avoided.

The collaboration of these authors thus serves a useful and important service to those who come in contact with aquatic environments at various levels of engagement, whether through intense activities (e.g., surfing large waves, deep scuba diving) or casual encounters with rip currents or dangerous fauna at bathing beaches. This book is particularly invaluable because it highlights aquatic hazards that at first glance may seem benign or not noticed at all because of lack of awareness on the part of individuals entering unfamiliar natural and artificial environments. Large waves crashing on a beach to most people would be a warning of potentially dangerous conditions that could lead to injury or drowning, whereas swimming pools and hot tubs are often disregarded as potentially dangerous because they are normally seen as places of fun or relaxation.

The comprehensive scope of this book thus sets it apart from advertisements or invitations to partake in various activities in aquatic environments. The greatest potential risk of harm or death in the coastal zone and amenities associated with tourist facilities faces those people who are alien to aquatic zones. For these folks, this book is critical reading. And, let it not be said that anyone who lives, works, or recreates in and around aquatic environments is exempt from the refresher course provided here in this book. Awareness and perception are thus code words for caution in aquatic realms that present special kinds of dangers that can be avoided by prudent action. The key point here is for people to learn how to interpret various potentially dangerous conditions in and around water bodies, whether oceans, lakes, ponds, rivers, estuaries, or waterparks.

This book provides a lifesaving guide to one and all who are familiar with or strangers to aquatic environments. The sage advice from this reviewer is as follows: get the book, read it, and put into practice what is offered. Readers are, however, warned early on to be careful because they might learn something that is not taught in school. Because this book is not fiction or recreational reading, knowledge obtained from it could save your life, and it thus cannot be more highly recommended as a guide to safety in water realms.