Fatal Child Drownings Aren’t Declining Fast Enough, CPSC Report Says

It remains the leading cause of unintentional death among kids aged 1 to 4 years old.
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ByNehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
June 9, 2021
Illustration of ladder in a swimming pool.
Image: Shutterstock

As we head into the warmer summer months, there’s one very important thing to keep in mind: child pool safety. A new report released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is underscoring the importance of families remaining vigilant in combating child drownings, especially as more families start to return to summer activities they enjoyed prior to the pandemic.

The report shows that child drownings remain the leading cause of accidental death in kids aged one to 4 years old.

According to the report, the numbers aren’t declining at the rate they should be, and the figures from 2020 weren’t all that statistically different from 2019. The report estimated an average of 6,200 pool- or spa-related, hospital-treated non fatal drownings occurred for each year from 2018 through 2020. The report found, on average, 397 pool- or spa-related fatal drownings were reported each year from 2016 through 2018, involving kids 15 years old or younger. Of these fatal incidents, 75 percent of them involved drownings with kids younger than 5 and 83 percent occurred in residentials pools.

As we approach the summer months, the CPSC is cautioning parents to be mindful about water safety skills, especially after the pandemic. “As we enter the summer months, parents and caregivers must be mindful of the pandemic’s impact on their children’s swimming ability and water safety skills,” CPSC Acting Chairman Robert Adler said. “CPSC’s latest report confirms that most child drownings involve children under the age of five, whose limited experience around the water due to recent social distancing restrictions could put them at greater risk of drowning. With fewer children attending swimming lessons during the past year, it is critical to refresh these and others the life-saving skills, while practicing increased vigilance both anywhere children are swimming and during non-swim times as well.”

If you’re wondering how to keep your young children safe around water this summer, Pool Safely has some tips.

  • Don’t leave kids unattended in or near any body of water. Have a designated adult watching the water and make sure they’re paying full attention (i.e. not using a phone, reading, or otherwise distracted).
  • Those who own pools or spas should install barriers to prevent unsupervised kids from accessing them. These include door alarms, pool covers, and self-closing, self-latching devices on doors that access the pools and on gates of four-sided fences.
  • Learn how to perform CPR.
  • Learn how to swim yourself and teach your kids how to swim.

For more tips on pool safety and information, visit

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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