Mar 072013

CPSC data show most child drownings occur in backyard pools; no entrapment deaths since 2008

WASHINGTON “モA new report out today from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission  (CPSC)  reveals that children younger than age 5 represent more than 75 percent of all pool and spa submersion deaths and 78 percent of pool and spa submersion injuries in the United States involving children younger than 15 years of age. Government data also show that African-American and Hispanic children between the ages of 5 and 14 are at a higher risk of drowning.

“Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of 1 and 4 and minority children drown in pools at an alarming rate,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum. “The lives of countless children can be saved this summer.  Take simple safety steps today”ヤteach all children to swim, put a fence around all pools, and always watch children in and around the water.” 

CPSC’s Pool Safely campaign is focusing its attention on populations most at risk of drowning: 

  • Children between the ages of 1 and 3 represented 67 percent of reported fatalities and 64 percent of injuries.
  • African American children between the ages of 5 and 19 are six times more likely to drown in pools than white and Hispanic children that age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Data from USA Swimming indicate that 70 percent of African American children and 62 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim, making them more likely to drown.


The new CPSC Pool or Spa Submersions: Estimated Injuries and Reported Fatalities, 2013 Report shows annual averages of:

  • 390 pool or spa-related drownings for children younger than 15 with 76 percent (296) of the victims being younger than 5;
  • 5,100 pool or spa-related emergency department-treated submersion injuries for children younger than 15 with 78 percent (4,000) of the injured being younger than 5.


CPSC Chairman Tenenbaum presented the annual Submersion and Entrapment reports for 2013 at an event today at the William H. Rumsey Aquatic Center in Washington, D.C.’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Chairman Tenenbaum was joined by U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.-23); Suzy DeFrancis, Red Cross Chief Public Affairs Officer, and Katey Taylor, mother of entrapment victim, Abbey Taylor. Jesus Aguirre, Director of the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, welcomed the group to the popular neighborhood pool.

“As we head into summer and families across the country are getting ready to take their kids to the pool, we must remind everyone how important it is to keep a careful watch on our children as they swim and ensure that their pools and spas have proper safety equipment,” said Rep. Wasserman Schultz.  “Working together, we can improve the safety of all pools and spas by increasing the use of layers of protection and promoting uninterrupted supervision to prevent child drowning and entrapment. With government programs like the CPSC’s Pool Safely, people can learn simple steps to take to save lives.”

“Learning how to swim saves lives,” said Suzy DeFrancis, Chief Public Affairs Officer for the American Red Cross. “The American Red Cross encourages all families to enroll in Learn-to-Swim programs by contacting your local pool.” Families can learn about Red Cross programs and find water safety tips by going to

New data from CPSC’s 2013 Submersion Report compile information on reported pool or spa-related drownings between 2008 and 2010 and estimated pool or spa-related injuries from 2010 through 2012 for children younger than 15. The estimated averages for the three-year periods represented show:

  • Residential locations dominated incidents involving victims younger than 5 years of age; 85 percent of the fatalities occurred at residential pools or spas. About 50 percent of the injuries and 73 percent of the fatalities involving children younger than 15 years occurred at a residence.
  • Of the reported pool fatalities for children younger than age 15, about 60 percent (231) occurred in in-ground pools; 15 percent (59) in above-ground pools, and nearly 10 percent (37) in portable pools.
  • There were no reported entrapment fatalities for 2012. The last recorded fatality of a child due to suction entrapment was in 2007.  CPSC received seven reports of entrapment injury incidents during 2012.


For the complete reports see: Pool and Spa Submersions 2013 and Circulation/Suction Entrapments 2013. The years for reported injury and fatality statistics differ due to a lag in fatality reporting. 

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