Fact Sheet


Global & United States Drowning Statistics

Water touches every aspect of children’s lives.
They need it to grow, they are comforted by it, they are cleaned and cooled by it – and without it they cannot survive. Water to most children means fun, play and adventure – in a pool, pond, lake or simply in the road following a rain storm. Water, though, can be dangerous. A small child can drown in a few centimeters of water at the bottom of a bucket, in the bath, or in a rice field. Drowning is an injury that displays epidemiological patterns that change according to age group, body of water and activity. In most countries around the world, drowning ranks among the top three causes of death from unintentional injury, with the rates highest among children under five years of age.
(World Health Organization, World Report on Child Injury Prevention, 2008)

“Considering that drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide and the single leading cause of child death (including disease) in some countries, the focus this critical report brings to the problem and viable preventive measures is immensely valuable. Now comes the time for action.”
(Alan Whelpton, World President, International Life Saving Federation)

• Drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for children 1-4 years of age. (Center for Disease Control & Prevention, 2008)
• In 2007, there were 3,443 fatal unintentional drowning incidents in the United States, averaging 10 deaths per day. (CDC, 2010)
• A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a childe age 4 and under. (Orange County California Fire Authority)
• Of all preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning and 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less. (Orange County California Fire Authority)
• It is estimated that for each drowning death, there are 1 to 4 non-fatal submersions serious enough to result in hospitalization. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
• 20% of all drowning incidents occur at private homes. (International Life Saving Federation, 2010)
• In 10 states – Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington – drowning surpasses all other causes of death to children age 14 and under. Children who die (86 percent) are found after 10 minutes. Nearly all who require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) die or are left with severe brain in- jury. (CDC)
• 58 percent of parents do not consider drowning a threat to their children. (Safe Kids Coalition)
• Children aged 1-4 are most likely to drown in hot tubs, spas and swimming pools. (Infant Swimming Resource, 2009)
• Minorities: Between 2000 and 2004, the fatal unintentional drowning rate for African Americans overall was 1.3 times that of whites. However, in certain age groups it was even higher. For example, the fatal unintentional drowning rate for 5-14 year old African Americans was 3.2 times higher than that for whites. (ISR, 2009)
• United States Summer Drowning 2010 Snapshot:
o CA 27 drownings, 15 non-fatal incidents
o FL 14 drownings, 19 non-fatal incidents
o AZ 9 drownings, 21 non-fatal incidents
o TX 12 drownings, 17 non-fatal incidents
o OH 10 drownings, 11 non-fatal incidents (Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2010)
• 1.2 million people around the world die by drowning every year, that is more than two persons per minute. (International Life Saving Federation, 2010)
• More than half of all worldwide drowning are children. (ILSF, 2010)
• There are 8 to 10 times that many who experience a drowning process but who reach safety alone or are rescued by their peers, by others, or by lifesavers/lifeguards. (ILSF, 2010)
• Globally, drowning is the second leading cause of injury death. (International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 2007)
• Deaths from drowning have been substantially under-reported due to systematic problems with the coding of drowning in the classification systems used in government data collections. (International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion, 2007)
• Estimates 350,000 annual drowning deaths in children 1-17in Asia alone. (ILSF, 2007)
• In Bangladesh, an estimated 17,000 children 1-17 drown each year, 46 per day. (ILSF, 2007)
• The burden of drowning differs dramatically among countries; 98.1% of the drowning deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. (World Health Organization, Drowning Fact Sheet)
• Global estimates suggest that 2–3 million children aged 0–14 years survived a drowning incident in 2004. (WHO, World Report on Child Injury Prevention, 2008)