Drowning Rate Among Kids Sees Resurgence Following Years of Decline

by Charlotte Wells 3

May 22nd, 2024 Learn to Swim, News

The drowning rate of young children has increased significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of deaths among kids aged one to four had been declining for decades, but with the pandemic shutting down pools and halting swim lessons, rates have begun to rise again.

Drowning rates among children between the ages of one and four were around 28% higher in 2021 and 2022 than they were in 2019, with 461 reported deaths in 2022.

Drowning incidents were already the number one cause of death among babies and toddlers even before the pandemic, making the recent surge all the more concerning.

The exact reason for the increasing rates is unknown, but many experts have indicated the shutdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic as playing a large part in this development as things such as swim lessons became hard to come by.

Tessa Clemens, a health scientist with the CDC’s Division of Injury Prevention, was one expert who cited shortages of swimming lessons and lifeguards during the pandemic, in addition to broader social barriers inhibiting the development of water safety skills, as probable explanations for the growing number of drowning deaths.

With many facilities still experiencing staff shortages and shortened hours as a lasting effect of the pandemic, learning proper water safety remains a challenge. The CDC recommends that families begin swim lessons early, even while children are still babies, in order to start developing comfort around water.

While young kids tend to be the most at-risk for drowning, having had the highest rates of drowning deaths over the last 20 years, learning water safety skills remain important for all individuals. Over 4,500 people of all ages died annually as a result of drowning incidents between 2020 and 2022, which is 500 more than the reported number in 2019.

The CDC has stated that nearly 40 million adults in the United States do not know how to swim, while over half have never taken a swim lesson before. This places them at a significant risk of drowning in the event of a water-related incident, particularly for those older than 65 or in racial or ethnic groups that already tend to be at higher risk.

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1 month ago

I suspect post pandemic inflation will likely be a factor against reversing the trend, as many families in the lower strata of the middle class find their discretionary budgets pinched. Anyone in the “Swim Lesson Business” here who can comment on enrollment numbers today vs pre-COVID?

Last edited 1 month ago by Pags
1 month ago

Swimming may be expensive by paying for pools, staff, lifeguards, and safety items, but the benefits pay off with less drownings.
Most of these deaths are preventable.

1 month ago

Interesting pick for the article photo