A new report released this week by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found annual fatal drowning rates in children under 15 increased gradually between 2015 and 2017, and that drowning is still the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 to 4 years old.
According to the CPSC’s data, there were, on average, 379 reported pool-or-spa-related fatal drownings per year among children under 15 for 2015 through 2017. That number spiked with spiked with 295 in 2017.
While the data comes from a pre-COVID-19 world, the report suggests that there is an increased need for awareness to combat drownings as families stay at home this summer.
“Water safety vigilance remains as important as ever, especially in light of ongoing public health concerns and community restrictions related to COVID-19,” said CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler. “Our latest report confirms that most child drownings take place at home during the summer months. This year, with more families spending time at home, the delayed opening of many public pools, and a pause on many traditional group swimming lessons, I urge everyone to take critical safety steps to reverse the upward trend in fatal child drownings.”
Seventy-one percent of the reported fatalities occurred at residential locations, like the child’s home or a neighbor’s home. 75% of the fatalities were children under 5 years old, and of those fatalities, 56% were found to be because of lack of suitable adult supervision.
The CPSC’s data also shows that there were about 6,700 “pool-or-spa-related” nonfatal child drowning injuries treated at emergency departments from 2017 through 2019 – that works out to 18 children every day of the year, the report notes.
In addition to fatal drownings, CPSC’s new data shows that there were an estimated 6,700 pool-or-spa-related, hospital emergency department-treated, nonfatal child drowning injuries each year for 2017 through 2019. This is the equivalent of about 18 children every day, 365 days a year.
The CPSC recommends that caregivers look to pool safety organization “Pool Safely” for guidelines on how to keep children safe around the water, which includes the following:
- 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 smartphone or be 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 a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
- 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 and if you do not know, ask your pool service provider about safer drain covers.
- Visit the Pool Safely Kids’ Corner to keep children entertained and educated with virtual water safety games and activities.