10 per Day

From 2005-2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — about ten deaths per day. An additional 332 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.

-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, April 2016

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 2016

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.

Disproportionate Risk

Males account for approximately 80% of fatal drowning victims. Researchers speculate that these results reflect men overestimating their swimming abilities. African American children ages 5-19 drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than white children. Among African American children ages 11-12, the rate disparity increases to 10 times. 

-CDC, Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, April 2016


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

-CDC, Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, April 2016

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 nonfatal drownings 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.