The national lifeguard shortage has renewed attention to water safety. One alarming statistic shows that drowning is a leading cause of death for children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, were 3,960 deadly unintentional drownings in the United States, or 11 fatalities each day, from 2010 through 2019. During that time, there were also 8,080 nonfatal drownings, or an average of 22 each day.
A nonfatal drowning injury occurs when a victim survives a drowning incident. While some nonfatal drowning accidents lead to no long-term harm, these accidents can lead to profoundly serious injuries, including permanent brain injuries.
Over 40% of drownings treated in emergency rooms require hospitalization or transfer for additional care.
High risk groups
More children ages 1-4 die from drowning than any other cause except birth defects. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death following vehicle accidents for children 1-14. For every child who dies in a drowning accident, another eight children receive emergency department care for non-fatal drowning.
Black children, ages 10-14, drown at rates 7.6% higher than white children in swimming pools. Black children are more likely to drown in public pools and white children are more prone to drown in residential pools.
Males are another high-risk group and constitute 80% of fatalities. Increased exposure to water, risk-taking and alcohol use are contributing factors.
People with epilepsy and other seizure disorders also have a higher risk of drowning. Drowning is the most common cause of unintentional injury death and bathtubs are the most common location for this group. Heart conditions and autism are other health conditions related to higher drowning rates.
These are the most common drowning causes:
- Being unable to swim
- Missing or substandard fences around pools
- Lack of supervision, especially over children, in oceans, lakes, pools, baths and even buckets of water
- Not wearing life jackets during boating and other water activities
- Drinking alcohol. For adults and adolescents, alcohol was implicated in 70% of deaths in water recreation, almost 25% of emergency room visits and approximately 1 in 5 boating fatalities
- Drugs and medications, especially psychotropic medications
Location also plays a role. Two-thirds of all drownings among infants under age 1 occur in bathtubs. For children ages 1-4, most drownings take place in home pools. Over half of all drownings for people 15 and older take place in lakes, rivers, and oceans.
Attorneys can help victims and families seek compensation if the drowning was caused by another person’s negligence, such as having inadequate fencing. They can assist them with filing a lawsuit.