CPSC Issues New Drowning Report with Child Fatalities; Reminder for Extra Water Safety Vigilance

June 8, 2023

Agency Calls for Increased Drowning Prevention Efforts This Summer for Families with Children.

WASHINGTON The annual drowning and submersion report released today by theU.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows that fatal child drownings and nonfatal drowning injuries for children under age 15 remain high. CPSC urges families with young children and those in historically excluded communities to make water safety a priority, particularly as they spend more time in and around pools during the summer. Child drownings continue to be the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4 years old.

CPSC’s latest data for the U.S. show the following for children younger than 15 years of age:

  • Between 2018 and 2020, there was an average of 371 pool- or spa-related fatal drownings reported per year.
  • The number of fatal drownings in 2020 was 340, down approximately 7 percent from previous year, when 367 fatal child drownings occurred.
  • The number of estimated non-fatal drowning injuries in 2022 was 6,400, which was statistically the same as 2021.

Additionally, the report highlighted drowning hazards in children younger than 5 years of age:

  • On average, from 2020 through 2022, there were an estimated 6,300 pool- or spa-related, hospital emergency department (ED)-treated, nonfatal drowning injuries each year. Seventy-six percent of these nonfatal drowning injuries involved children younger than 5 years of age.
  • Pool- or spa-related fatal child drownings involving children younger than 5 years of age increased 10 percent in 2020 with 279 fatalities reported, compared to 2019 when 254 fatalities were reported. Of the reported pool- or spa-related fatal child drownings, 75 percent involved children younger than 5 years of age.

Where location was known, 80 percent of reported fatal child drownings occurred in residential settings such as the victim’s home, or that of a family member, friend, or neighbor, with 91 percent of those drownings occurring in those younger than 5 years of age.

The report also highlights stark racial disparities in drowning fatalities. Out of the 63 percent of all drowning fatalities involving children whose race is identified, African American children made up 21 percent of all drownings.

For older children – aged 5 to 14 with race identified – 45 percent of drowning deaths involved African Americans.  These data highlight the need to reach historically excluded communities with water safety information and support.

“The fatalities from drowning and non-fatal drowning injuries are still high, so water safety vigilance remains crucially important this summer and all year,” said CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric. “CPSC urges parents and caregivers to follow Pool Safely safety steps. And I especially encourage everyone to use layers of protection. For example, you should install proper barriers, covers, and alarms on or around your pool, as well as designate an adult to always supervise children in the water. CPSC is working to raise awareness with our drowning prevention efforts and to collaborate with diverse communities to get the word out to help reduce pool- and spa-related injuries and fatalities.”

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 being 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 protection, including barriers to prevent an 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 entrapments.
  • Ensure any pool and spa you use has drain covers that comply with federal safety standards. If you do not know, ask your pool service provider about safer drain covers.

You can read the full CPSC drowning and entrapment reports by visiting PoolSafely.gov