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Nonfatal Drowning Injuries Spiked by 17 Percent in 2021, CPSC Report Says

Drownings remain the leading cause of accidental death in kids under 4 years old.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Updated June 9, 2022
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Summertime fun is here, and there’s one very important thing to keep in mind: water safety.

A 2022 report released by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows that drownings remain the leading cause of accidental death in kids under 4 years old, and underscores the importance for families to remain vigilant in combating child drownings.

According to the report, nonfatal drowning injuries spiked by 17 percent in 2021 with 6,800 injuries reported, compared to 2020 with 5,800. The report estimated an average of 389 pool- or spa-related fatal drownings involving children younger than 15 years of age occurred each year from 2017 through 2019. Of these incidents, 75 percent of nonfatal drownings under 5 occurred at residential pools, and around 66 percent of fatal drownings under 15 years old occurred in residential pools.

“Child drowning rates and nonfatal drowning injuries among children under 15 years old remain high, and water safety vigilance is as important as ever this summer for parents and caregivers,” said CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric in a press release. “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. Working together, we can help reduce pool- and spa-related fatalities.”

If you’re wondering how to keep your young children safe around water this summer, the CPSC has some tips:

  • Don’t leave kids unattended in or near any body of water. Have a designated adult watching the water and make sure they’re paying full attention (i.e., not using a phone, reading, or otherwise distracted).
  • Those who own pools or spas should install barriers to prevent unsupervised kids from accessing them. These include door alarms, pool covers, and self-closing, self-latching devices on doors that access the pools and on gates of four-sided fences.
  • Learn how to perform CPR.
  • Learn how to swim yourself and teach your kids how to swim.

For more tips and information on pool safety, visit PoolSafely.gov.

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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