2009 U.S. Drowning Statistics

by Myles McMorrow, September 05, 2009

Pool Drownings show sharp Increase this year

Let's face it, children get into things and get into places they are not supposed to be in. The last thing you want is to have an unsupervised child around your pool. Hundreds of children die in pools every year, but this year, 2009, is different in that the number has doubled so far this year. Over 600 drownings! Please Read On!

On average in the USA, 300 children die in pools and hot tubs. In Texas alone they are close to beating that this year. There are many ways this can happen in your pool and many things you can do to prevent this. Many times it is a neighbor’s child that climbs the fence or wanders in from an unlocked gate. Other times there are multiple families in the back yard having a party. They have a false sense of safety because everyone thinks someone else is watching the kids. It is up to you as a pool owner to take the steps to prevent the unexpected tragedy and maybe save the life of a child.


There are few reports where someone heard someone drowning. Drowning victims often have water in their lungs and cannot make a sound. Most of the time there is no one to hear or see them. There is a product called a pool alarm that can give a drowning victim a voice. It will give anyone (over 8 pounds) a chance at getting heard. They sound off an alarm at the pool and in the house if someone goes into the pool. This should be a must if you own a pool and especially if you have children. Kids can open locked doors.


This is not just relying on supervision but on many safe guards such as Pool Alarms, Pool Covers, Pool Fences, Door Alarms and other means of security or obstructions leading to the pool. If you are having a party spend the $20 per hour to have a life guard come to your pool (most pool management companies will offer this).


Even when you are going to a pool that has life guards watch your children. Life guards are not babysitters. They are there as a last resort. You have to remember that they have lots of people to look after not just your child. The Drowning Prevention Foundation says 19% of all child drownings happen in public pools where guards are on duty. Keep an eye on your child at all times.


Many  states have laws for door and pool alarms, fences, and self latching and locking gates. They have done this to help protect the growing rate of pool drowning. Check with your county and state code enforcement agencies to see what applies to you. The fines can be steep if you are not complying with the laws. You might be able to get a break from your home insurance company for adding safety measures to your pool to help prevent drowning. But if there is an accident, and you are not compliant with the law, don't expect the insurance company to help protect you from lawsuits.

It is your duty as a pool owner to make your pool as safe as it can be. If you ask any drowning victim’s family they will tell you that never thought it could happen to them.

I will leave you with some drowning facts and some helpful links:


There were 3,308 unintentional drownings in the United States, an average of nine people per day.(CDC 2006)

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Of all children 1-4 years old who died, 26% died from drowning (CDC 2006). Fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years (CDC 2005)

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It is estimated that for each drowning death, there are 1 to 4 nonfatal submersions serious enough to result in hospitalization. Children who still require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at the time they arrive at the emergency department have a poor prognosis, with at least half of survivors suffering significant neurologic impairment.

American Academy of Pediatrics

19% of drowning deaths involving children occur in public pools with certified lifeguards present.

Drowning Prevention Foundation

Children under five and adolescents between the ages of 15-24 have the highest drowning rates.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

An estimated 5,000 children ages 14 and under are hospitalized due to unintentional drowning-related incidents each year; 15 percent die in the hospital and as many as 20 percent suffer severe, permanent neurological disability.

National Safety Council

Of all preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one or both parents at the time of the drowning and 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less.

Orange County, CA, Fire Authority

The majority of children who survive (92 percent) are discovered within two minutes following submersion, and most children who die (86 percent) are found after 10 minutes. Nearly all who require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) die or are left with severe brain injury.

National Safe Kids Campaign



Safekidsusa - nonprofit for helping to save child lives

Poolsafety.gov - CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) website for pool safety

Drowning Prevention Foundation - nonprofit for helping to prevent drowning

National Drowning Prevention Alliance - nonprofit for helping to prevent drowning

Pool Safety Council - nonprofit for helping to prevent drowning

Home Safety Council - tips for a safe home

Center for Disease control - water safety pages