CDC Report (2024): Increase In Kids’ Drowning Deaths & How To Reduce The Risks

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increase in kids drowning deaths


Overview: Are Drownings Increasing?

Yes. Based on CDC data (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), unintentional drowning deaths in the US have increased by as much as 28.3% in 2022 than in 2019 (pre-COVID-19 pandemic onset). This is for children 1-4 years old. (1)(2)

For example, in 2022 alone, as many as 461 fatal drowning incidents were reported for children from this age range (1-4 years old). These drowning deaths account for as much as 35.8% of all accidental or unintentional fatalities for the age group. (1)(2)

Data for all ages shows a lower increase rate of 9.1%, from 1.2 drowning deaths per 100,000 in 2019 to 1.3 in 2022. Despite the lower rate, it’s still an increase. (1)

Learning how to swim and providing supervision are essential in preventing drowning. Data showed that as many as 72% of drowning deaths for children aged 0-14 were due to the lack of supervision. As much as 70% even happened during “non-swim times.” (3)(4)

Children (6-10 years old) who know how to swim may have a 96% less chance of drowning than those who don’t. (4)

Be extra careful when you have children with certain medical, mental, congenital, or other health conditions. Data shows that children with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) may have a 160x higher risk of drowning than other kids. (4)

What’s alarming is that the CDC report showed that as many as 4,500+ drowning deaths happen in the US every year. (1)(2)

About 80% of drowning victims are male. (4)

(source: (4)


The CDC report showed that as many as 15% of US respondents (adults) don’t know how to swim, and 55% haven’t had swimming lessons. (1)

(source: (1)


Why are the drowning rates increasing, and are kids more vulnerable than adults? Where do kids drown the most? Aside from swimming lessons, what else can you do to reduce your children’s drowning risks? 

Continue reading to find out more.


What Are The Statistics For Children Drowning?

Is Drowning The Leading Cause Of Accidental Death In Children Younger Than Age 5?

Yes, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4. However, due to limitations on their activities and capabilities, drowning isn’t considered a major cause of death for infants younger than one year old. (see charts below) (2)

Based on 2022 CDC data in the first chart below, drowning accounted for 35.8% or as many as 461 deaths for children ages 1-4. As much as 52.5% (242 deaths) happened while in the swimming pool. (2)

(source: (2)


Still, based on 2022 CDC data, drowning only accounts for 2.6% (33) of unintentional deaths from injuries for infants younger than one year old. (2)

What’s alarming, however, is that most of these drowning deaths reportedly happened while the baby was in the bathtub. (2)

(source: (2)


Drowning Stats For 5+ Years Old

Drowning ranks second on the list of the leading causes of death for children ages 5-9 years old and ages 10-14 years old. However, it isn’t considered a significant cause of death for older kids and young adults in the age group 15-24 years old. (2)

In 2022, there were 123 (16.9%) drowning deaths for the age group 5-9 years old. (2)

(source: (2)


Drowning accounted for 11.6% (107) of drowning deaths for the age group 10-14 years old: (2)

(source: (2)


There have been a total of 290 reported drowning deaths for the age group 15-24 years old (older kids and young adults). However, despite the actual count being higher than those in other age groups, it only accounts for 3.7% of all unintentional deaths: (2)

(source: (2)


Drowning Stats Based On Ethnicity & Race

The CDC’s 2022 provisional data also showed drowning stats based on ethnicity and race: (2)(4)

  • American Indians or Alaska Native people have the highest drowning rates than other groups from 2020 to 2022; they might have a 2x risk compared to Caucasians (for the age group 29 years old and younger).
  • African Americans rank second, with drowning rates increasing by 28% in 2021 compared to 2019 numbers.


Where Do Kids Drown The Most?

Based on the 2022 CDC data in the charts above, the location of the drowning deaths varies based on the age groups. (2)

Most of the drowning deaths for babies younger than one year old happened in the bathtub: 33 deaths (2.6% of all unintentional injury deaths). (2)

The following are the main locations for drowning deaths for the age group 1-4 years old in 2022: (2)

  • While in the swimming pool – 52.5% (242 deaths)
  • While in natural water – 18.2% (84 deaths)
  • While in the bathtub – 9.1% (42 deaths)
  • Unspecified location or drowning incident – 9.1% (42 deaths)
  • Falling into the swimming pool – 5.2% (24 deaths)


The following are the main drowning death locations for the age group 5-9 years old: (2)

  • While in the swimming pool – 44.7% (55 deaths)
  • While in natural water – 30.9% (38 deaths)
  • While in the bathtub – 8.9% (11 deaths)


The following are the main drowning death locations for the age group 10-14 years old: (2)

  • While in natural water – 60.7% (65 deaths)
  • While in the swimming pool – 20.6% (22 deaths)
  • Unspecified location or drowning incident – 9.3% (10 deaths)


Most of the drownings reported for the older kids age group (15-24 years old) happened while in natural water: 290 deaths (3.7% of all unintentional injury deaths). (2)


How To Reduce Your Children’s Risks Of Drowning

Learning how to swim can reduce drowning risks by as much as 96%. It is among the best ways to save your children from drowning. Note, however, that even children or people who know how to swim can still drown, especially when faced with strong currents or obstacles such as rocks or thick underwater vegetation. (3)(4)

IMPORTANT WARNING: Drowning can happen within seconds, even with just an inch of water (especially for babies because they might be incapable of moving their heads to avoid the water). Close supervision is essential to prevent accidents from happening. (3)

Here are other ways to reduce your children’s drowning risks: (3)(4)

  • Never leave your children unattended in the bathtub or any body of water, including inflatable pools, swimming pools, or natural bodies of water. This is especially important for children younger than 5 years old.
  • Ensure your children are supervised in any water body, even when wearing floaties or other devices like the Otteroo neck swim ring. The floating devices can slip off, deflate, or burst, leading to possible drowning.
  • Babyproof your home and add baby gates to bar access to water sources, especially the bathroom. Consider the pros and cons of solid vs. retractable baby gates to find the ideal product for your home.
  • If you own a swimming pool, build an enclosure to prevent young kids from accidentally falling into the water. Regularly check the locks to ensure they’re closed and working. Isolation pool fencing can reduce drowning risks by 83%. 
  • Understand the risks of natural water bodies, such as flowing rivers that can carry a child downstream, big waves and/or dangerous currents at the beach, rocks or vegetation that can limit visibility, deep areas, lightning strikes, etc.
  • Impose a buddy system for your family, especially if someone has a seizure disorder or other medical conditions such as autism. 
  • Watch out for reports on product recalls or safety warnings on floating devices and other items used for swimming (e.g., the Otteroo safety warning) to keep unsafe products away from your children.
  • Stop kids from playing or challenging themselves to hold their breath underwater. It can lead to hypoxic blackout (also called shallow water blackout), where they can pass out from lack of oxygen.
  • Ensure your kids wear flotation devices (e.g., U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets) while boating or doing other recreational activities in the water. These can reduce your child’s risk of drowning by 50%.
  • Kids with certain medical conditions, such as autism or seizures from epilepsy, can be more prone to drowning. Never leave them unattended in any water body, regardless of age and even when they know how to swim.
  • Medications can affect your and your children’s coordination, balance, judgment, and activeness. Some can make you feel sleepy or tired. Check the warning label. Avoid swimming if you or your children are taking these medications.
  • Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs while supervising children with swimming and other water activities. They can cloud your judgment and endanger your kids.
  • Learn basic first aid, especially CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). These skills can save your child’s (or someone else’s) life while waiting for the paramedics to arrive in an emergency.


The CDC acknowledges that swimming lessons can be expensive and unavailable in some communities. Some parents might also feel hesitant to let their kids attend lessons, even when they’re available, due to “complex social and cultural factors.” (2)

The US National Water Safety Action Plan was created to help local communities and states identify and create actionable steps to prevent drowning. (2)(4)

Some of these action plans include: (4)

  • Use emerging technologies, alarms, and pool fencing to reduce the risks of unsupervised water access and drowning.
  • Promote swimming lessons and water competency.
  • Improve supervision and protection by parents, lifeguards, and group leaders for children (or adults) in and around water bodies, including home swimming pools.
  • Encourage the use of more life-saving devices (e.g., U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets) for boaters and those enjoying recreational activities in or around water bodies.
  • Develop “comprehensive drowning data surveillance” to better identify the risk groups and find ways to create or promote interventions.
  • Promote CPR learning and training for lifeguards, EMS personnel, and the general public.


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