Drowning deaths up from last year, on par for average

There are already more drowning deaths in Missouri this year than all of last year.

Drowning deaths in Missouri are already up drastically from last year, but on track the yearly average.

So far this year, 31 people have drowned on Missouri waterways. During all of 2012, there were only 20 deaths.

"On the holiday weekends when you've got a lot of people out there...sometimes people lose sight of other people and it's easy to do that. If they've been drinking or they're not a strong swimmer, things can happen really quickly," Captain Tim Hull of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said.

Hull said the average number of drowning deaths is between 40 and 50, so despite the increase this year is on track for the yearly average. He said last year's drought contributed to the low number.

The number of drowning deaths in Missouri in the last five years are:

2012: 20

2011: 41

2010: 50

2009: 27

2008: 44

Captain Hull said he expects to see the number of drownings slow down toward the end of the summer.

"The vacation time of year is going to be coming to a close, there won't be as many people on the the numbers will probably slow down a little bit so we'll probably be pretty close to being on track," he said.

He also noted that most of the drowning deaths were preventable, and gave some advice to stay safe.

"We talk about clicking seatbelts for life but if they click that life jacket we call that clicking for life as well. If they're going to make alcohol part of their celebration or their weekend activity, just make sure they've got somebody that's an observer. Use the buddy system out there so that if they do have trouble they can call for help," he said.