Fatal Child Drownings Rising In Recent Years, CPSC Warns

As residential swimming pools are increasingly being used to escape the heat during shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a new federal report warns that the number of fatal child drownings has continued to increase over the past five years, highlighting the importance of closely monitoring children any time they are around water.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a new report (PDF) on June 3, warning about the risk of child drownings and pool accidents, which have resulted in more than 6,700 injuries occurred every year from 2017 to 2019. Many of those accidents led to a child’s death..

According to the federal safety regulators, fatal drownings involving a child increased each year during the report period from 2015 to 2017. There was an average of 379 pool-related fatal drownings each year from 2015 to 2017, involving children under the age of 15. By 2017, that number reached a peak, resulting in nearly 400 children drowning in pool-related incidents that year alone.

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Children younger than 5 years old accounted for 75% of child drownings during that time period, the commission reports. This has resulted in child drownings being the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4 years old.

Most of the fatal drownings occurred in the child’s home and during the summer. Residential locations, like a child’s home, neighbor’s house, or friends house, were the location for 71% of fatal drownings, suggesting more children are dying in pool drownings in places where they feel most at ease, the CPSC indicated.

The CPSC warned that 56% of the drownings were attributed to an adult failing to fully or properly supervise the child.

More than 6,700 pool-or-spa related child drowning injuries occurred every year from 2017 to 2019. This equates to roughly 18 children suffering a non-fatal drowning accident every single day, 365 days a year.

This new report is an update to CPSC’s child drowning report issued last year, which indicated roughly 6,600 drowning injuries occurred every year. That data also indicated an average of 348 children die in pool drowning incidents each year, highlighting the significant increase in fatal drownings reported in this year’s report.

In light of COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions, many families are opting to forgo outings and swim at home or at a neighbor’s home. With that in mind, the safety warnings issued by the CPSC may be even more important to heed.

“Our latest report confirms that most child drownings take place at home during the summer months,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler. “This year, with more families spending time at home, the delayed opening of many public pools, and a pause on many traditional group swimming lessons, I urge everyone to take critical safety steps to reverse the upward trend in fatal child drownings.”

The CPSC issued safety tips focusing on ways to keep children safe in and around water this summer, recommending that parents and caregivers:.

  • Never leave a child unattended in or near water. Always designate a person to supervise children in water. That person should not be reading, texting, using a smartphone or distracted.
  • If you own a pool, install layers of protection, including a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
  • Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
  • Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
  • Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards.


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