Release date: May 24, 2016
Release number: 16-170

Release Details

Despite decrease, drowning is still the leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 1 – 4; second leading cause of death in children ages  5 – 14 years old

WASHINGTON – A new report released today by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows that the number of fatal child drownings in swimming pools has decreased 11 percent nationwide since 2010, the year the agency launched its Pool Safely public education campaign. Despite the decrease, fatal and non-fatal child drownings in pools and spas continue to pose a public health and safety challenge across the United States. In national media interviews this morning, CPSC Chairman Elliot F. Kaye urged families to be vigilant when children are in and around the water this summer.

“Children drowning continues to be a public health crisis,” said Chairman Kaye. “My heart breaks when I read death reports about toddlers who slip out the back door and into an unprotected pool or young kids who do not have basic swim skills and end up participating in a pool party. As the father of two young boys, I know how challenging it is to always keep an eye on your kids; but constant supervision, along with four-sided fencing, knowing how to perform CPR and teaching children how to swim are the keys to stopping child drownings. I believe that we can continue to reduce the number of drownings, because drowning is 100 percent preventable.”

CPSC’s latest data show there were 355 reported fatal child drownings in pools and spas in 2013, with 283 involving children younger than 5. This is a decrease from 397 and 302, respectively, in 2010. Other key findings include:

  • Between 2013 and 2015, an estimated 5,600 children younger than 15 years old were treated each year in hospital emergency rooms for non-fatal drownings in pools or spas.
  • Between 2011 and 2013, the majority of fatal drowning victims were younger than 5 (77 percent of victims younger than 15 years old).
  • Between 2013 and 2015, the majority of hospital emergency room-treated non-fatal drowning victims were younger than 5 years old (77 percent of victims younger than 15 years old).
  • For children younger than 15 years old, almost two-thirds of the fatal drowning victims were boys.
  • For children younger than 5 years old, residential locations made up 57 percent of non-fatal and 87 percent of fatal reported drowning incidents.

Note: CPSC’s report addresses non-fatal drownings for the period from 2013 through 2015 and fatal drownings for the period from 2011 through 2013, reflecting a lag in the reporting of fatal drowning statistics.

In addition, CPSC also released today an updated report on circulation and suction entrapment incidents in swimming pools, spas and whirlpool bathtubs. The latest data from 2011 and 2015 show that there were 18 children under the age of 15 who suffered a circulation entrapment, with the majority of incidents involving children younger than 15 years of age. While there were 18 separate incidents in this age group, there was only one fatality: a 4-year-old child who became entrapped in a residential spa. Since the inception of the Pool Safely campaign in 2010, there have been zero entrapment incidents in a public pool. The complete report can be found at PoolSafely.gov.

“Memorial Day weekend represents the traditional start of the summer swim season,” said Chairman Kaye. “I ask all parents and kids to join me and the more than 30,000 others who have taken the Pool Safely Pledge before heading to the pool this year.”

Follow Pool Safely’s simple steps to keep children safer in and around the water:

  • Install a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate around all pools and spas.
  • Designate a Water Watcher to supervise children in the pool or spa. This person should not be reading, texting, using a smart phone or be otherwise distracted. (Order or download a free Water Watcher card at www.PoolSafely.gov)
  • Learn how to swim and teach your child how to swim.
  • Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults.
  • 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 safe drain covers.

 

Pool Safely, a national public education campaign supporting the requirements of Section 1407 of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, works with partners around the country to reduce child drownings, non-fatal drownings and entrapment incidents in swimming pools and spas. Parents, caregivers, and the media are encouraged to visit: PoolSafely.gov or @PoolSafely on Twitter for vital safety information regarding the prevention of child drownings in and around pools and spas.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. 

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