Coastal drowning in Costa Rica: incident analysis and comparisons between Costa Rican nationals and foreigners.
International and domestic tourism is a growing industry in Costa Rica, with the most attractive places located along the coast. Despite their beauty, Costa Rican beaches can pose a high risk for foreign visitors: Drowning is the primary cause of unintentional death among international visitors. This study presents a comprehensive analysis of demographics, spatial and temporal trends of national and foreigner fatal drowning occurring at Costa Rican beaches during 2001-2019. For national beachgoers, teens and young male adults, ages 15-30 years are at greatest risk of drowning, while for foreigners, older adults ages 45-60 years exhibit higher risk. Temporal trends in drowning appear to be correlated with the number of beach visitors, which seem to be driven mainly by a combination of socioeconomical and climatic/weather factors. For instance, strong economic indicators for the Costa Rican population combined with good weather fostered during warm phases of El Niño Southern Oscillation attract more national beachgoers, which may increase the number of drowning deaths. These results will help authorities better understand the complex and dynamic drowning situation to develop better prevention strategies and policies that improve beach safety and raise awareness about coastal hazards and risk. Such actions will bolster the reputation of Costa Rica as a safe touristic destination.
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