The Center for Disease Control estimates that 11 people die every day due to drownings in the United States. That is an average of 3,960 drowning deaths each year. There were about 1.23 deaths for every 100,000 people every year from 2015-2019 in swimming pools and other boating accidents in the US. Swimming pool injuries or deaths can occur in pools, open recreational water bodies, or fitness clubs. Even non-fatal drowning cases can lead to severe brain damage with four minutes of submersion. Most of the victims who drown suffer from severe neurological disabilities despite surviving these accidents. Therefore, despite the fun moments in swimming pools, there can be lots of sad moments. Read on for more insights.
Swimming Pool Drowning Statistics
- On average, 76% of children younger than five were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal drowning and pool-or-spa-related injuries from 2017 through 2019.
- Children aged five years and below accounted for approximately 80% of the emergency department-treated injuries due to pool-or-spa-related accidents in 2019.
- On average, approximately 379 spa-or-pool-related drowning death cases involving children under the age of 15 have been reported every year from 2017 to 2019.
- Still, 2017 and 2018 recorded relatively high numbers with an estimate of about 72% and 78%, respectively.
- Unintentional drowning deaths were an average of 3,957 cases every year from 2010 to 2019, as per CDC.
Who Is at the Highest Risk of Drowning?
Anyone is at the risk of drowning, but some groups are more prone to this danger, as outlined below.
Drowning is one of the significant causes of death among children in the United States, especially those younger than 15. Drowning cases in children can happen at any time while swimming. Many of these cases occur when children have access to unsupervised swimming pools. In fact, about 23% of children drown during family gatherings that are near swimming pools.
The drowning rates in the US also differ between different racial groups. For instance, the drowning death rate among non-Hispanic black people is up to one and a half times higher than the drowning death rate among whites. Still, there is a higher rate of drowning deaths among Alaska Native people and American Indians, two times higher than white people, especially those aged 29 years and below. The disparities are also three and a half times higher for those aged between 25 and 29.
Children are also highly impacted among some of the racial groups. Black children aged 10 to 14 years drown up to seven times higher than white children, while those from five to nine years drown almost three times higher. Alaska Native and American Indian people record the highest drowning death rates in natural waters, with nearly three times more cases than white people.
Male vs. Female
Out of the reported drowning cases, about 80% are male. Several factors contribute to a higher number of males drowning, such as higher exposure to water, more alcohol use before swimming or boating, risk-taking behaviors, and more.
Individuals With Medical Conditions
Some health conditions can increase the chances of drowning, leading to injuries or deaths. For instance, people who have seizure disorders like epilepsy are more prone to drowning than other individuals. Still, people suffering from heart conditions and other medical illnesses like autism also have a higher risk of drowning.
Other Risk Factors Include:
- Leaving infants alone with other kids around water or having infants completely unsupervised around pools
- People who are unfamiliar with local water features and risks, such as tourists
- Inadequately maintained aquatic facilities
- Lack of a barrier or fence around a swimming pool area
Where do Most Swimming Pool Drownings Occur?
Drowning cases can happen at any time and anywhere, but some locations are riskier than others, as discussed below:
Commercial vs. Residential
Most drowning incidents happen in residential areas, with up to 74% of these cases being fatal pool accidents. Sadly, children aged one to four years are the most affected, especially when the pool lacks a proper fence or when kids are left unattended. Although commercial pools are still not 100% secure, most of them have swimming lifeguards who are always on the lookout for all the activities around pools.
Causes of Drowning Deaths or Injuries
Some of the common causes of drowning are:
When water rapidly flows through pool drains, it results in strong suctions that causes circulation entrapment. When this happens, minors are at a higher risk of getting trapped, leading to severe injuries or even death. Still, if a drain is missing or simply loose, it can also lead to injuries. According to CPSC, victims can suffer from different types of drain entrapment, including:
- Limb entrapment – When a leg or arm gets trapped in the drain
- Evisceration – This is when disembowelment happens when sitting on a drain
- Mechanical entrapment – A victim’s clothing or jewelry might get caught in a drain
- Hair entrapment- Hair can also get trapped in a broken or faulty drain cover.
Inability to Swim
The most common cause of drowning is the inability to swim is also the most obvious. Surprisingly, both children and adults will attempt to get into a pool without proper swimming training. Although there may be a lifeguard on-site, it may be hard to save a person who has not undergone training. Participating in the appropriate swimming and water safety lessons is ideal in helping you minimize the possibility of drowning.
Lack of Pool Fencing
An all-sided fence prevents direct access to the pool area, thereby lowering the chances of minors drowning. Even in a residential area, installing a fence can help save a life despite the higher installation costs. The fence should be tall enough and have a locking mechanism to prevent minors from entering the swimming pool.
Lack of Supervision
Never leave children unattended near a public or private pool, pond, bathtub, or bucket full of water. Also, make sure there is a lifeguard on duty or a competent adult around any swimming pool. Even as an adult, avoid swimming alone and follow the 10/20 rule; scrutinize the entire swimming area every 10 seconds and ensure that you can reach the water within 20 seconds.
Not Wearing Life Jackets/Floating Devices
In 2012, approximately 85% of reported boating drowning victims didn’t wear life jackets. Whenever you are on a boat, make sure you have a knife jacket, child or adult-sized. Floating devices should also be in good shape and accessible because an accident can happen when you least expect it.
According to CDC, about one in every five boating deaths involve alcohol use, mainly among adults and adolescents. Alcohol affects your coordination, basic motor skills, balance, and judgment. You might not accurately know how far or how long you can swim, even if you have years of experience as a swimmer. Therefore, it’s always advisable to avoid taking alcohol during or before boating or swimming. Also, avoid taking alcohol when supervising minors at a swimming pool.
Common Swimming Injuries and Accidents
Some of the common swimming accidents that lead to injuries or death include:
Diving and Jumping
Jumping or diving into the shallow ends of a swimming pool can lead to severe spinal injuries. If a swimmer jumps head first, they can suffer from severe head injuries. Even when jumping with feet first, the resulting joint sprain and muscle injuries can be excruciating.
Slips and Falls
In most cases, slips and falls occur when someone is running in an area very close to a swimming pool. The wet surface due to water increases the chances of slips and falls into the pool. These accidents can result in broken bones, bruises, head trauma, or scrapes.
Children are the most impacted by drowning, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. On average, approximately 379 spa-or-pool-related drowning cases have been reported every year from 2017 to 2019. In these cases, the children involved are 15 years or younger. The commission also shows about 6,700 non-fatal child drowning injuries from a pool or spa-related accident from 2017 through 2019. This means that there are about 18 cases of children drowning each year.
Fatal drowning can easily lead to death, while non-fatal drowning can cause organ damage to the victim. Brain damage is common in non-fatal drowning due to a lack of oxygen to the brain. The injuries can lead to long-term effects like permanent loss of functions, memory problems, or learning disabilities.
Sometimes chemicals may be added to a swimming pool improperly, leading to injuries. Notably, there were about 13,508 emergency hospital visits due to pool chemical injuries between 2015 and 2017. Generally, disinfectants and chlorine are chemicals added to swimming pools. Having the wrong amounts of these chemicals in the swimming pool can lead to irritations on the skin, ears, eyes, and airways. In case a swimmer ingests or inhales the chemical vapors, gases, and fumes, they may experience respiratory injuries.
Where Can You Get Help After a Drowning Incident?
Some of these swimming pool injuries or deaths occur due to negligent pool or property owners. Victims can sustain life-altering injuries leading to medical expenses such as medication, surgery, and future hospital visits. These are some of the reasons you might need an attorney’s assistance to help get financial compensation from the negligent party.
At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA, we are ready to fight for you. We are highly skilled drowning accident lawyers who understand swimming pool accident cases. Contact us today by calling (305) 694-2676 to discuss how we can help you, a loved one, or a friend.