Hundreds of Children Drown Annually in Pools: CPSC Report

Federal safety officials warn 80% of fatal child drownings occur at a home, relative or friends swimming pool.

As the start of the summer season gets underway, federal safety officials are warning parents to keep a close eye on young children in or near swimming pools, to help reduce the number of children who drown every year.

In a report on fatal and non-fatal drownings (PDF) released this week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) indicates child drowning accidents most commonly occur in the summer months, between May and August, when private and public swimming pools open for the summer season.

Each year, the CPSC tracks and records pool and spa-related injuries and deaths, as well as the populations most at risk. The agency also implements public educational programs in an effort to reduce the number of drowning deaths in those areas.

Despite these efforts, the agency indicates that the number of child drowning deaths and non-fatal drowning injuries have remained consistently high among children under 15 years of age in 2022. Most of those injuries and deaths are avoidable, the Commission found.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the U.S. alone, drowning is the number one cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of one and four years old.

The CPSC reports there were an average of 371 fatal drownings reported per year between 2018 and 2020 involving children under 15 years of age. Fatal drownings involving children younger than 5 years old increased 10% in 2020 with 279 reported fatalities, compared to 254 fatalities reported in 2019. Of the reported drowning fatalities, 75% involved children under 5 years of age.

The CPSC found 80% of the child drownings occurred in a residential location; including the victim’s residence, or the home of a relative, friend, or neighbor.

Officials reported the number of non-fatal drowning injuries were statistically the same as 2021, with an estimated 6,400 injuries involving children under the age of 15 years old reported in 2022. The report found that 76% of the non-fatal drowning injuries involved children under the age of 5 years old.

The report also revealed continuing racial disparities involving the drowning deaths of African American children, emphasizing the need for agencies to support historically excluded communities and provide them with important water safety information. CPSC data indicates 21% of child drownings involved African American children. In addition, African American children accounted for 45% of drowning fatalities involving children from the ages of 5 to 14 years old.

The CPSC is urging families and caregivers with young children, those who visit public pools, and those who live in historically excluded communities to prioritize water safety this summer, and follow Pool Safely’s simple steps to keep children safe around water.


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