Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths to children ages 14 and under. A temporary lapse in supervision is a common factor in most drownings and near-drownings. Child drownings can happen in a matter of seconds--in the time it takes to answer the phone. There is often no splashing to warn of trouble. Children can drown in small quantities of water and are at risk in their own homes from wading pools, bathtubs, buckets, diaper pails, and toilets as well as swimming pools, spas, and hot tubs.
Deaths and Injuries
- A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a child age 4 and under.
- Each year, approximately 1,150 children ages 14 and under drown; more than half are preschoolers (ages 0-4).
- Each year, an estimated 5,000 children ages 14 and under are hospitalized due to near-drownings.
- Of children surviving near-drownings, 5-20 percent suffer severe and permanent disability.
Where Drownings Happen
- Approximately 50 percent of preschooler drownings occur in residential swimming pools.
- Each year, more than 2,000 preschooler near-drownings occur in residential pools.
- Of preschooler pool drownings, 65 percent occur in the child's home pool and 33 percent at the homes of friends, neighbors or relatives.
- Each year, 350 drownings (for all ages) happen in bathtubs.
- Each year, approximately 40 children drown in five-gallon buckets.
- In ten states--Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington-- drowning surpasses all other causes of death to children ages 14 and under.
How and When Drownings Happen
- Of all preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one of both parents at the time of the drowning.
- Of all preschoolers who drown, 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less.
- Two-thirds of all drownings happen between May and August.
- Of all drownings, 40 percent occur on Saturdays and Sundays.
Who is at Risk
- Of all age groups, children ages 1-4 have the highest drowning death rate.
- Health care costs per near-drowning victim typically range from $75,000 for initial emergency room treatment to $180,000 a year for long-term care.
- The annual economic costs of residential pool drownings and near-drownings of young children are estimated to be $450 million to $650 million.
- While there is no substitute for adult supervision, safeguards and barriers around pools and hot tubs provide additional protection for children.
- Estimates predict that the widespread use of pool fencing would prevent 50-90 percent of pediatric pool drownings and near-drownings.
- Never leave a child alone - even for a second.
- Maintain constant eye contact with your children when they are around the pool.
- Do not consider young children water-safe because they have had swimming lessons. Swimming instructions for children under three years of age are not recommended.
- Instruct babysitters about the potential hazards to young children in and around spas and swimming pools and the need for constant supervision.
- Train all caretakers in life-saving, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid. No exceptions.
- Install a telephone poolside with emergency numbers posted.
- Keep toys away from the spa and/or pool when the spa and/or pool is not in use. They can lure a child into the spa and/or pool.
- Use inflatable toys only under adult supervision. They may deflate or your child may slip off.
- Post and enforce rules such as No Running, No Pushing, No Dunking and never swim alone.
- Make sure you have rescue devices accessible poolside.
- Keep all doors and windows leading from the house to the pool area secure. Install self-closing mechanisms and pool alarms on doors.
- Enclose the pool with a barrier. In fact, fencing may be required in certain areas. Check your local city or county building code for more information.
- Install only child-proof fences and gates around pools.
- Avoid fences such as chain link that provide footholds for little climber's feet.
- Place tables and chairs well away from the pool and/or spa fence to prevent children from climbing into the spa and/or pool area.
- Investigate installing a spa/pool safety cover.
- Check to ensure that spa and pool covers pass minimum safety requirements set by the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM).
- Never have the spa/pool cover partially in place since children may become entrapped under it.
- Beware of a free-floating spa/pool cover. A child can slip beneath one unnoticed.
- Realize that a child can drown in as little as two inches of water. Drain standing water off of your spa or pool cover.
- Investigate using a pool alarm and/or monitoring system that can be worn by a child.
- Remove ladders and steps from aboveground pools. No objects should be in the aboveground pool area for a child to climb on and into the water.
- Inspect safety and pool/spa equipment regularly. Preventative devices are only effective if they are in working order.