Fatal child drownings and nonfatal drowning injuries in children under age 15 remain high, according to the most recent report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Particularly as children ages 5-14 return to community pools and summer camps, the CPSC urges families to make water safety a priority. Child drownings continue to be the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4 years old.
CPSC’s latest data for the U.S. show:
• From 2017 through 2019, there were an average of 389 pool- or sparelated, fatal drownings reported per year involving children younger than 15.
• Pool- or spa-related, hospital department- treated, nonfatal drowning injuries involving children younger than 15 spiked 17 percent in 2021 with 6,800 injuries reported, compared to 2020 with 5,800.
• Of the reported pool- or sparelated fatal child drownings, 73 percent involved children younger than 5.
According to Alex Hoehn-Saric, CPSC Chair, child drowning rates and nonfatal drowning injuries among children under 15 remain high, and water safety vigilance is as important as ever this summer for parents and caregivers.
“Whether a child is playing in a community pool, a neighbor’s pool, or your own, we urge parents and caregivers to prepare their children for water-related activities by reviewing pool safely tips and signing up for swim lessons this summer,” Hoehn-Saric said.
On average, from 2019 through 2021, 80 percent of children treated in emergency departments for poolor spa-related, nonfatal drowning injuries were younger than 5. Where known, 73 percent of nonfatal incidents in children under age 5 that led to emergency room visits occurred at a residence, compared to nearly 27 percent that occurred in a public location. Two-thirds of reported fatal child drownings in pools or spas occurred in residential settings such as the victim’s home, the house of a family member or friend, or a neighbor’s residence.
Parents and caregivers can follow Pool Safely’s simple steps to keep children safer in and around the water:
• Never leave a child unattended in or near water, and always designate an adult Water Watcher. This person should not be reading, texting, using a phone, or be otherwise distracted. In addition to pools and spas, this warning includes bathtubs, buckets, decorative ponds, and fountains.
• If you own a pool or spa, install layers of barriers to prevent the unsupervised child from accessing the water. Homes can use door alarms, pool covers, and self-closing, self-latching devices on fence gates and doors that access pools.
• Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults. Many communities offer online CPR training.
• Learn how to swim, and teach your child how to swim.
• Keep children away from pool drains, pipes, and other openings to avoid entrapment.
• Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards and if you do not know, ask your pool service provider about safer drain covers.
• Visit the Pool Safely Kids’ Corner to keep children entertained and educated with virtual water-safety games and activities.
• Take the Pool Safely Pledge as a family, and find customized watersafety resources using the Pool Safely Safer Water Information Match (S.W.I.M.) tool.
Visiting PoolSafely.gov to read the full CPSC drowning and entrapment reports.
Note: CPSC’s report addresses nonfatal drownings for the period 2019 through 2021 and fatal drownings for the period 2017 through 2019, reflecting a lag in the reporting of fatal drowning statistics.
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