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Drownings and Near-Drowning Accidents

Water Safety Tips


Updated August 13, 2014

Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death in all age groups. Among toddlers and preschool-age children, drowning is the second-leading cause of all deaths.

Although parents usually picture pools when they think about drowning, it is important to keep in mind that kids can drown in almost any body of water, from a bucket of water to a fishing pond. An infant can drown in just a few inches of water.

Common accident sites for drownings include:

  • Backyard pools, including above-ground and inflatable pools
  • Community pools
  • A full or partially filled bathtub
  • Hot tubs
  • Lakes
  • Streams

Of course, kids are also at big risk for drowning in the ocean, especially around rip currents.


To get an even clearer picture of your child's risk, consider these recent stories about drownings:

  • A 5-year-old from Birmingham, Alabama who drowned in a park lake on Memorial Day. He had been wading in the lake with several older boys when he fell into a drop off.
  • A 23-month-old in Cupertino, California drowned in a backyard spa at the home.
  • A 23-month-old in Redford Township near Detroit, Michigan, drowned by getting out of the house (the family was visiting friends) and climbing a ladder into an above-ground pool that only had about two feet of water in it.
  • A 12-year-old drowned in Sterlington, Louisiana while swimming with a group of children and adults. When the kids got out of the pool, one of them noticed him at the bottom of the pool.
  • A 5-year-old drowned at Clarkco State Park near Meridian, Mississippi after going missing while playing near a boat ramp at the edge of a lake.
  • A 22-month-old drowned in the San Jacinto River at Magnolia Garden Park in northeast Houston. She had been playing in some by a boat dock, while other family members were nearby in the water.
  • A 3-year-old drowned on Hatteras Island, North Carolina after he got out of a rental house and was found at the bottom of a swimming pool in the backyard.
  • A 3-year-old drowned in La Plata, Maryland during a birthday party while several other people were in the pool. When some started to get out of the pool, they noticed the child at the bottom of the deep end of the pool.
  • A 16-month-old drowned in an above-ground pool near Montgomery, Illinois.
  • A 6-year-old drowned at a country club pool while diving for toys in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • A 2-year-old drowned in a neighbor's pool when the child wandered off during a neighborhood block party in Roselle Park, New Jersey.
  • A 1-year-old drowned in the family's backyard swimming pool in Deltona, Florida.
  • A 3-year-old was in critical condition after nearly drowning in his grandfather's swimming pool in Slidell, La.
  • A 17-year-old drowned in lake at Rock Cut State Park in Illinois when a canoe he was in with friends capsized. A strong swimmer, he still didn't make it back to shore. His mother was the dispatcher that took the 911 call.
  • A 15-year-old boy drowned in an un-designated swimming area at Airport Beach Park near Waco, Texas.
  • An almost 2-year-old in Nederland, TX drowned in an above-ground pool during a kids' birthday party. Everyone had gotten out of the pool to eat in a patio area, but he slipped away and got back into the pool by himself.
  • An 8-year-old drowned in a motel pool in Rayburn Township, PA after his grandmother was distracted for a few minutes.
  • A 1-year-old in Millville, NJ drowned in a bathtub after he was left unattended.
  • A 2-year-old in Double Oak, TX drowned in a hot tub after a kids' birthday party while a lot of adults were still in the backyard.
  • A 1-year-old in Gary, IN drowned in a backyard pool.
  • A 3-year-old near Houston, TX drowned in the community pool at an apartment complex during a nighttime pool party.
  • A 3-year-old drowned in a pond in Myakka City, FL after fishing with her brother and uncle. They thought she had gone back into the house.
  • A 5-year-old drowned in Lake Tyler in Texas while his mother was fishing on a boat dock.
  • An 8-year-old drowned in a busy community pool near Indianapolis, IN
  • A 6-year-old nearly drowned in a YMCA pool near Phoenix, AZ, but was rescued.
  • A 9-year-old drowned while tubing on the Chattahoochee River in Georgia.
  • A 19-month-old nearly drowned in a rain-filled hole in his backyard that was dug to hold a trampoline.

Drowning Statistics

Drowning is common. It is estimated that 10 people drown every day. Two children drown each day. And for every drowning, another four children are rescued but may still have severe injuries.

This summer, there were at least 202 drownings in pools and spas (Memorial Day to Labor Day 2013), with most of these deaths in children who were less than 5-years-old according to media reports compiled by the USA Swimming Foundation.

That makes it important to keep water safety in mind at all times, especially if you have a pool, hot tub or pond near your home.

In addition to teaching your kids to swim and child-proofing your pool, be sure to supervise your kids when they are around water. Don't let your guard down just because your child knows how to swim or because there are other people around, such as at a pool party or at a community pool, even when a lifeguard is present.

Also, if your child is ever missing, look for him in your pool, hot tub or other nearby body of water first, as every second counts when rescuing a drowning child.


CDC. Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet. Accessed June 2011.

CPSC. Pool Safely. Preventing Drowning. Accessed June 2011.

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 10 Leading Causes of Unintentional Injury Deaths, United States. 2007, All Races, Both Sexes

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