Drowning: It Can Happen in an Instant

Not including boating incidents, on average about nine people die from drowning every day in the United States, according to Injury Facts® the annual statistical report on unintentional injuries produced by the National Safety Council.

Pool Safely This Summer; Take the Pledge

NSC and the Consumer Product Safety Commission are encouraging everyone to keep water safety top of mind and reduce child drowning in pools and spas. The Pool Safely campaign reminds everyone to follow five simple steps to stay safer in and around water.

More than 75,000 adults and children have signed the Pool Safely Pledge this summer. Take the Pledge today and get a free Pool Safely Toolkit.

The USA Swimming Foundation reports nearly 90 children younger than 15 drowned in a pool or spa from January through May 2018, and every year about 19 children drown during the July 4 holiday. CPSC also reports:

  • 74% of drowning incidents for children younger than 15 between 2015 and 2017 occurred in residential locations
  • Boys younger than 15 die from drowning at twice the rate as girls
  • 351 children younger than 15 died in pools and spas in 2015
  • Emergency departments treat about 6,400 pool and spa injuries in children younger than 15 every year

Teens and Young Adults Often Don't Think About Water Safety

While drowning deaths peak among one and two year olds, drownings continue to be the second leading cause of preventable death through age 15. According to NSC research, 780 people age 5 to 24 drowned in 2016; of those, 530 were age 15 to 24.

Swimmers should keep a few safety precautions in mind:

  • Don't go in the water unless you know how to swim; swim lessons are available for all ages
  • Never swim alone
  • Learn CPR and rescue techniques
  • Make sure the body of water matches your skill level; swimming in a pool is much different than swimming in a lake or river, where more strength is needed to handle currents
  • If you do get caught in a current, don't try to fight it; stay calm and float with it, or swim parallel to the shore until you can swim free
  • Swim in areas supervised by a lifeguard
  • Don't push or jump on others
  • Don't dive in unfamiliar areas
  • Never drink alcohol when swimming; alcohol is involved in about half of all male teen drownings, according to KidsHealth.org

The Younger the Child, the Greater the Risk

Most parents think water safety is first and foremost on their minds whenever they are enjoying summer activities with their young kids. But when the unthinkable happens, caregivers often say, “I only looked away for a second.”

NSC statistics point to drowning as a leading cause of death for young children – mostly due to children falling into a pool or being left alone in the bathtub. Of the 3,786 drownings in 2016, more than 12% were children age 4 and younger, according to Injury Facts. Bathtubs, toilets and even buckets also can pose a danger for very young children.

Distractions Make for Tragedies

Parents are cautioned all the time about water safety, but drownings still occur. Always be aware and be in the present moment with your children. Following are a few water safety precautions:

  • Never leave your child alone; if you have to leave, take your child with you
  • Find age-appropriate swim lessons for your child, but keep in mind that lessons do not make your child "drown-proof"
  • Lifeguards aren't babysitters; always keep your eyes on your child
  • Don't let children play around drains and suction fittings
  • Never consume alcohol when operating a boat, and always make sure everyone is wearing U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets
  • Don't underestimate the power of water; even rivers and lakes can have undertows
  • Always have a first aid kit and emergency contacts handy
  • Get training in CPR
  • If a child is missing, check the water first

Every pool, every lake and every warm summer day holds the possibility of new, fun summer experiences. All you need to add is your undivided attention.

  • Protect Children Around Water – All the Time

    ​No matter where you live, no matter the time of year, it's important to always watch your child around water. Bathing, swimming, even buckets and toilets can present a safety hazard for young children.

    Learn More