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These rankings are tragic because drowning is the most preventable accidental injury


Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4


Drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death for children ages 5-14


Drowning is the third leading cause of accidental death for young adults ages 15-34


Drowning is the fourth leading cause of accidental death for adults ages 35-54

In 2020 there were 619 deaths from drowning of children 1-14

  • Drowning is almost 50% more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a child age 1-4.

  • Almost 70% of young children who drown to so at non-swim times.

  • Almost half of young drowning victims had last been seen inside.

Approximately 75% were being supervised by one or both parents

  • Most child victims had been out of sight for less than 5 minutes.

  • Half of the child drowning victims are within 25 yards of a parent or other adult.

  • Most child drowning deaths occur in swimming pools located at a private residence (75%) but a significant number occur in public pools with certified lifeguards present.

  • Most drowning deaths are the result of a lapse in supervision, not a lack of supervision.

Drowning is quick. A child can drown in 20 to 60 seconds

  • A child under 30 lbs. can drown in 20 seconds.

  • It takes less than 1/2 cup of water in the lungs for a child to drown.

  • A young child can drown as a result of the startle reflex which causes them to gasp after falling into the water.

  • A child can drown at a waterpark.

  • Children can and do, drown in buckets and toilets.

  • The majority of drowning victims under age 1 drown in bathtubs.

For every child who dies from drowning, another eight receive emergency department care for non-fatal drowning


In 2020, 546 teens aged 15 - 24 died from drowning

  • Teens and young adults have the highest rate of drowning.

  • More than half of fatal and nonfatal drownings among people 15 years and older occur in natural waters like lakes, rivers, or oceans.

  • Those aged 25 - 34 experienced 557 fatal drownings.


Drowning is silent. Drowning victims are physically unable to cry out for help or wave their arms.

Drowning often occurs at unexpected times and places. 

Drowning injuries can cause brain damage and other serious outcomes, including long-term disability.

Brain death can occur in a matter of minutes.

SWIM ON Foundation is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization. EIN: 83-4306115 

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