10 per Day

From 2005-2009, there were an average of 3,533 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day. An additional 347 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.

-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, April 2011

Swimming Ability

A study conducted by the CDC to assess self-reported swimming ability found that in the U.S., younger respondents reported greater swimming ability than older respondents and that swimming ability increased with education level.

-CDC, Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, April 2011

1 in 5

About one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

-Laosee, OC, Gilchrist, J, Rudd, R. MMWR 2012; 61(19):344-347.


Males account for approximately 80% of fatal drowning victims. The researchers speculate it’s due to men overestimating their swimming abilities. The drowning rate among blacks is 9% higher than that of the overall population. Among those ages 5 to 14, the drowning rate is 116% higher than the overall population. 

-CDC, Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, April 2011


Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14 years, more than one in five fatal drowning victims are children ages 14 and younger.

-CDC, Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, April 2011

1 to 4 Years Old

Drowning resulted in more deaths among 1- to 4-year olds than any other cause except birth defects. Incidents in bathtubs accounted for approximately 10% of fatal and non-fatal drowning and were most common among children ages 4 and younger.


More than 50% of drowning victims treated in emergency departments (EDs) require hospitalization or transfer for further care (compared with a hospitalization rate of about 6% for all unintentional injuries). These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state).

-Cummings P, Quan L. Trends in Unintentional Drowning: The Role of Alcohol and Medical Care.