July 11, 2023

New CPSC Drowning Data Calls for Caution this Swim Season

With pools open and the hottest days of summer on the horizon, families are spending more time in and around water. As you and your family kick back by the pool, new data from the latest U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) annual drowning and submersion report is a timely reminder not to relax your commitment to drowning prevention.

During a summer of splashing, sunbathing, and poolside picnicking, here are some key findings from CPSC’s new report — released on June 8, 2023 — to keep top-of-mind:

  • According to this year’s report, fatal drownings and non-fatal drowning injuries remain high for children under 15. Between 2018-2020, an average of 371 children under 15 years old fatally drowned in a pool or spa each year. In 2022 alone, there were 6,400 non-fatal drowning injuries estimated in this age group.
  • The report also found that these hazards were particularly severe for children under 5. Of all children who fatally drowned in pools or spas, 75% were under 5 years of age. Children under 5 also made up 91% of children who fatally drowned in residential settings—the most common drowning environment.
  • CPSC’s new data also revealed stark racial disparities in drowning fatalities. Where race was identified, African American children made up 21% of all fatal drownings while making up only 15% of the population. Forty-five percent of 5-14 year-olds who fatally drowned were African Americans. Data from collaborator organizations confirms that Black and Hispanic children continue to drown at higher rates and have disproportionately lower swimming ability than white children.

These numbers are a clear reminder of the crucial importance of water safety vigilance.

To lessen these persistent risks and keep young ones safer around water, there are several proactive safety measures you can take. Start with Pool Safely’s six simple steps:

  1. Supervise Children: Never leave children unattended in or around water. Even if a lifeguard is present, always designate an undistracted Water Watcher whose only job is to supervise young swimmers.
  2. Learn to Swim: Teach children how to swim.
  3. Know Your Drains: Teach children to keep away from drains to avoid dangerous entrapments.
  4. Ensure Compliance: Check that all pools and spas have federally compliant drain covers.
  5. Install Safety Devices: Install proper barriers like self-latching gates, pool door alarms, and non-climbable fences to prevent unsupervised children from accessing pools and spas.
  6. Get Certified: Learn how to perform CPR on children and adults to intervene quickly in case of emergency.

For more information about each of these steps, visit: https://www.poolsafely.gov/parents/safety-tips/

This season, with drowning injuries and fatalities remaining high, parents and caregivers must redouble their commitments to water safety. Before you suit up and jump in, make sure you know the facts, read the steps, and understand the stakes to Pool Safely all summer and beyond.