Who we are?


Sociedade Brasileira de Salvamento Aquático

Drowning is a major public health problem in Brazil where 15 people die daily, four of them children under 14. Brazil has a very high exposure to aquatic areas used year round, and the one of highest rates of death by drowning in the world. According to the Brazilian Center for disaster control (2011), Brazil ranks fourth worldwide in the number of reported injuries from flooding.

In 2018 the Brazilian population was 208 million inhabitants, of which 1.3 million died. External causes were responsible for 13% of all death, and the two first reasons between 1 and 44 years old. Drowning was responsible for 5.597 (2.7/100.000 inhabitants) death and was the second leading cause of death for all causes among 1 to 9 years old, third among 10 and 19 years old, and fourth among 20 to 25 years old. The risk of injury in the aquatic setting is estimated to be 5.03/100.000 inhabitants. Pools and bathtubs were of limited importance considering all ages affected, but for those aged 1 to 9 years, 53% of deaths occurred in these venues.
There has been a significant decrease of 52% in drowning deaths from 1979 to 2018, which can be attributed in large part to preventive programs which have been offered by the “Sociedade Brasileira de Salvamento Aquático – SOBRASA”. A recently study in Brazil identified the immense disproportion of the problem of fatal drowning in fresh water. This is partly attributable to the increased provision of lifeguards at major ocean venues. Freshwater venues were responsible for more than 70% of all deaths with a high predominance of males aged 15 to 29. These usually occur in isolated places in the interior of the country, where the deployment of lifeguards is largely infeasible.
The great majority of seriously injured victims die before reaching the hospital. This fact highlights the importance of prevention, but funds spent on prevention are much more limited than those spent on response and treatment. Coastal drowning deaths are estimated to cost more than $228 million (US) per year in Brazil.(1) Gross National Income per capita is a determinant risk factor for drowning in Brazil, where we can see two different socioeconomic realities inside one country. States where GNI/capita is below $8,826 (US) have a risk of drowning death that is 27% higher than the remaining states.
SOBRASA is a non-governmental organization and a Full Member of the International Lifesaving Federation (ILS), with a BOD of 13 members, 32 departaments run by 112 experts on prevention, rescue, mitigation representatives in all 27 states. Our board of directors is composed of professionals who oversee state funded lifeguard services. They meet weekly. This network includes more than 20.000 lifeguards and health professionals around the country. Please visit www.SOBRASA.org
LIC/MIC countries, especially Brazil, are often too concerned with short term results or reactive measures, rather than viewing prevention in a more comprehensive and proactive manner. Preventive education is the most effective action that can be taken to reduce drowning death and injury, but delivering that education is challenging. For several years since foundation in 1995, SOBRASA has been working efficiently with the concept of engaging the help of non-lifeguard groups by using a strategy of “teaching the teacher to multiply the prevention message”. Medical students, physical educators and swimming practioners (surfers, divers, sailers, swimmimers, etc) have been receiving classes of water-safety risk management, drowning prevention and first aid. We also start a plan of preventive action targeting primary schools and especially inland areas where preventive information has great challenge to effectively reach.
One of our most efficient tools is an ongoing project at schools around the country where we have been using preventive beach, fresh and flood water safety messages presented by 5 cartoon videos and 5 comic books.
The project “Kim at the School” is an effort to spread the prevention message to children in a funny, uniform, easy to disseminate, and interesting way in Brazil. The project has four different parts working in unison during 20-30 minute sessions targeted at children age 5 to 9 years. A lifeguard/lifesaver visits a primary school class. He explains the lifeguard job and the importance of drowning prevention in five minutes. The “Drowning prevention cartoon video” is shown (7+6+6 minutes). All kids receive a comic book to read and color the blank spaces with prevention messages. This comic book comes with a “refrigerator magnet” with safety recommendations aimed partly at parents, thus bringing the message into the home.
Recently we move forward on a broader prevention campaign to reach all corners of our country using basically the electronic learning process. The sharing principle of the Internet allows the value of a single prevention project to be multiplied, easily increasing the benefit with a lower cost for all involved. Moreover, Internet-based education can be shared on a global level.

SOBRASA has been very active in realizing many different prevention projects, and some of them are described below:

1. Project “POOL+ SAFE” – a prevention campaign to help owner to make their private and public pool safer video
Abstract english link

2. Water safety courses on-line for free. link

3. A cartoon video on beach drowning prevention – link, also available in English subtitles link and Spanish link

4. A cartoon video on fresh water drowning prevention (rivers, lakes, in-house and pools) link, also available in English link  and Spanish link

5. A cartoon video on FLOOD drowning prevention link, also available in English link   and Spanish link

6. Comic book – KIM at adventures in fresh Water – a prevention comic book – link

7. The project “Drowning Prevention at Fresh Water” targeting children age 5 to 9 years old: a lifeguard visit to elementary school + Drowning prevention 
cartoon videos + comic book + refrigerator magnetic with prevention message to children at home.

8. Surf-save Project – Teaching prevention and lifesaving to surfers – link/

9. Aquatic emergency course – Teaching prevention and lifesaving to health professionals (medicine and nursery) link and video

10. Junior lifeguard program – a program on drowning prevention every weekend for children age 15 to 18 years-old.  link video at link

11. Kids lifeguard program – a program on drowning prevention every weekend for children 5 to 14 years-old. link

12. Prevention banner to download link

13. Pool signalization of water safety link

14. The “Drowning Prevention Seeders” campaign to reduce drowning occurrence by identifying and delivering effective prevention messages in an 
enjoyable way to young people. link

15. Pool safety graphic material to download for free link

16. 250 Lectures a year on drowning prevention


SOBRASA weekly participation as a Brazilian leader on drowning prevention at TV, radio and newspaper press. I.e; http://globotv.globo.com/globo-news/globo-news-saude/v/conheca-o-metodo-de-salvamento-de-afogados-que-e-destaque-no-mundo/2482507/





1. Szpilman D, Bierens JJLM, Handley AJ, Orlowski JP. Drowning: Current Concepts. N Engl J Med 2012; 366:2102-10
2. David Szpilman. Afogamento – Perfil epidemiológico no Brasil – Ano 2011. Publicado on-line em https://sobrasa.org/?p=7041, Julho de 2013. Trabalho elaborado com base nos dados do Sistema de Informação em Mortalidade (SIM) tabulados no Tabwin – Ministério da Saúde – DATASUS – 2013. Acesso on-line http://www2.datasus.gov.br/DATASUS/index.php Julho de 2013 (ultimo ano disponível 2011)
3. David Szpilman. DROWNING IN BRAZIL – A profile of quarter of million deaths in 32 Years (1976-2010) – World Conference on Drowning Prevention, Potsdam – Germany 2013, Book of Abstracts, P257. www.wcdp2013.org
4. David Szpilman. Having difficulties raising funds for a drowning prevention campaign? Build yourself a tool to attract government support! World Conference on Drowning Prevention, Danang – Vietnan 2011, Book of Abstracts, ISBN: 978-0-909689-33-9, P283.
5. Antonio Schinda, David Szpilman, Edemilson de Barros, Roberto Antonio Deitos. DROWNING: a silent fatal endemic in Parana state predominantly by youth in freshwater – World Conference on Drowning Prevention, Potsdam – Germany 2013, Book of Abstracts, P272. www.wcdp2013.org
6. Szpilman D, Goulart PM, Mocellin O, Silva A, Guaiano OP, Barros M, Alves AS, Morato M, Cerqueira J, Vilela JJM, Smicelato CE, Araújo RT, Pedroso JP, Krüger L, Barros E, Cerqueira A, Sales RC, Silva NS; 12 YEARS OF BRAZILIAN LIFESAVING SOCIETY (SOBRASA) – Did we make any difference? World Water Safety, Matosinhos – Portugal 2007, Book of Abstracts, ISBN: 978-989-95519-0-9, p207-8.
7. David Szpilman. A Professional Way To Multiply Our Drowning Prevention Message By Enlisting The Help Of Non-Lifeguards – World Conference on Drowning Prevention, Danang – Vietnan 2011, Book of Abstracts, ISBN: 978-0-909689-33-9, P284.
8. Szpilman D; SURFER-SAVE – A way to decrease drowning by teaching lifesaving to surfers; World Water Safety, Matosinhos – Portugal 2007.
9. David Szpilman. The socioeconomic aspect of drowning death in Brazil: A huge unbalance. World Conference on Drowning Prevention, Danang – Vietnan – Portugal 2011, Book of Abstracts, ISBN: 978-0-909689-33-9, P118.
10. David Szpilman et al; An impacting tools to reduce drowning among children in schools – The Use Of Fresh Water Drowning Prevention Video, A Comic Book, A Refrigerator Magnet And A Comic Character Of 2m Tall Named Kim (The Crab) –– World Conference on Drowning Prevention, Potsdam – Germany 2013, Book of Abstracts, P66. www.wcdp2013.org
11. David Szpilman. Four children below 14 years-old die every day by drowning in brazil: how are we fighting against this catastrophe? – World Conference on Drowning Prevention, Potsdam – Germany 2013, Book of Abstracts, P65. www.wcdp2013.org