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Fatal Child Drownings Continue to Rise, CPSC Reports

It remains the leading cause of unintentional death among kids aged 1 to 4 years old.
ByNehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
Jun 2020
view of empty swimming pool in backyard
Photo: Shutterstock

As we head into the warmer summer months, there’s one very important thing to keep in mind: child pool safety. A new report released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is underscoring the importance of families remaining vigilant in combating child drownings, especially as more families stay home this summer due to COVID-19.

Child drownings remain the leading cause of unintentional death among kids aged 1 to 4 years old. According to the CPSC’s data, on average, there was 379 pool-or-spa related fatal drownings per year for 2015 through 2017. They all involved children younger than 15 years old. That number spiked, at 395 reported fatalities in 2017. According to the report, resident locations (i.e. the child’s home or a family/friend/neighbor’s home) made up 71 percent of the reported fatal drownings.

“Water safety vigilance remains as important as ever, especially in light of ongoing public health concerns and community restrictions related to COVID-19,” CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler stated in a press release. “Our latest report confirms that most child drownings take place at home during the summer months. 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.”

According to the report, kids younger than 5 accounted for 75 percent of child drownings between 2015 and 2017. Of these, 56 percent were due to a gap in adult supervision.

For each year starting 2017 through 2019, there were an estimated 6,700 pool-or-spa-related, hospital emergency department-treated, nonfatal child drowning injuries. According to the report, this is the equivalent of about 18 kids each day for a 365-day calendar year.

To help prevent both fatal and nonfatal drownings, parents and caregivers can follow a few simple steps from Pool Safely. These include never leaving a child unattended near any body of water (including bathtubs, buckets, etc.), installing layers of protection such as a fence or self-closing gate, learning how to perform CPR and teaching yourself and your kids how to swim. For more pool safety tips and information, visit PoolSafely.gov.

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