Child Drowning Fatalities Stay High, According to the CPSC

Summer has arrived, meaning it's time to head to the pool and drive to the beaches. Amidst the exciting weather, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advises Americans to exercise additional caution around water because drownings continue to be the primary cause of death for children between the ages of one and four.

The CDC estimates that there are 4,000 fatal unintentional drownings and 8,000 nonfatal drownings every year, including both children and adults.

The annual drowning and submersion report, released on June 8, stated that between 2018 and 2020, an average of 4,788 kids under five experienced nonfatal drowning injuries that required treatment in a hospital emergency room. Children under five who drowned fatally in pools or spas rose by 10% to 279 in 2020.

A drowning that results in survival is referred to as a nonfatal drowning. Nonfatal drowning can cause injuries of all severity levels, such as brain damage or permanent impairment, or none at all.

Children under 15 also experienced a high rate of fatal drownings and nonfatal drowning injuries, with an average of 371 fatalities per year between 2018 and 2020 and 6,300 injuries that needed hospitalization between 2020 and 2022.

The survey indicated that homes, whether the victim's home or the home of a family member, friend, or neighbor, was the scene of about 80% of reported fatal child drownings. Among children aged five to 14 who died from drowning and whose race could be determined, African American youngsters comprised 45% of the cases.

CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric concludes: "The fatalities from drowning and nonfatal drowning injuries are still high, so water safety vigilance remains crucially important this summer and all year."

Hoehn-Saric encourages parents and guardians to adhere to the rules in the CPSC's Pool Safely public education campaign:

  • Never leave a child alone near or in the water; appoint a responsible adult to serve as the water watcher.
  • This person shouldn't be distracted by reading, sending texts, using their phone, or anything else.
  • This caution applies to bathtubs, buckets, decorative ponds, fountains, swimming pools, and spas.
  • Install multiple layers of security, including barriers, to keep kids out of the water if you have a pool or spa.
  • Pool covers, self-closing, self-latching systems for fence gates, and door alarms are all options for homes.
  • Learn how to administer CPR to both adults and children.
  • Both you and your child should become proficient swimmers.
  • Keep kids away from pipes, drains, and other holes around pools to prevent entrapments.
  • A pool and spa you use should have drain covers that meet federal safety standards.

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