The Facts On Childhood Drowning


Every year in the US, 3,572 people die from drowning. Nine hundred and forty-five of them are children. Children account for one out of four drowning deaths.

This infographic from the Children's Safety Network covers the demographics of drownings, locations of drownings, near drowning, and prevention. Swim safely this summer!

Download a print version of the infographic

The Facts On Childhood Drowning


Every year[i] in the US, 3572 people die from drowning
945 of them are children[ii]

Children account for 1 out of 4 drowning deaths


Nearly half are infants and toddlers


Average Deaths per Year (2010 through 2014)

0 through 4

451 (48%)

5 through 9

129 (14%)

10 through 14

106 (11%)

15 through 19

259 (27%)


Boys account for 3 out of 4 child drowning deaths


Deaths (Percent)







Asian/Pacific Islander (PI)


American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN)



While White children account for more than half of these fatalities, AI/AN and Black children are significantly more likely to drown

For every 1,000,000

  • White children, 10.9
  • Black children, 18.3
  • Hispanic/Latino children, 8.3
  • Asian/PI children, 8.1
  • AI/AN children, 19.7

will drown


Infants under the age of 1 are most likely to drown in a bathtub

Most children ages 1 through 4 drown in swimming pools at home

The likelihood of drowning in natural water settings (lakes, oceans, and rivers) increases with age (CDC)

Near drowning

For every child that drowns, 5 more are treated in the emergency department for near drowning

In the most severe cases, near drowning may lead to brain damage, memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (vegetative state) (CDC)

2.4% of children hospitalized for near drowning are transferred to rehabilitation hospitals (NIS)


Drowning can happen quickly and quietly

Formal swimming lessons reduce the risk of drowning in 1- to 4-year-old children by 88% (Brenner, 2009)

Four-sided isolation fences that keep the pool separate from the house and yard reduce a child’s risk of drowning by 83% compared to three-sided fencing that enclose the house and pool together (CDC)

Children should wear life jackets on boats

Children should always be actively supervised in and around water by a designated adult Water Watcher


Brenner RA, Taneja G, Haynie DL, et al. Association Between Swimming Lessons and Drowning in Childhood: A Case-Control Study. JAMA Pediatrics.2009;163(3):203-210. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2008.563.

2012 Healthcare Utilization Project, Nationwide Inpatient Sample (NIS) (Accessed June 7, 2016 by R. Spicer).

WISQARS. Fatal Injury Data. WISQARS (Accessed May 4, 2016 by R. Willmer). Atlanta, GA. Retrieved from All numbers are based on averages from 2010-2014.

Unintentional Drowning: Get the Facts. CDC.

Additional resources:

Water Watcher Card | Safe Kids Worldwide

Keeping Kids Safe in and Around Water: Exploring Misconceptions That Lead to Drowning | Safe Kids Worldwide

Dangerous Waters: Profiles of Fatal Childhood Drownings in the U.S. 2005–2014 | Safe Kids Worldwide


[i] Average from 2010 through 2014

[ii] For the purpose of this infographic, children are defined as under 20, toddlers are defined as 1 through 4, and infants are defined as <1

[iii] White, Black, Asian/PI, and AI/AN are non-Hispanic