Child drowning deaths increasing, according to most recent data

A new report focused on annual drowning deaths shows drowning deaths by children under the age of 15 are on the rise.

Focused on drowning and submersion deaths and injuries, the report compiled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows fatal drownings for children increased 12% in 2021 over the previous year.

"Children can drown quickly and silently and the increase in drownings for this age group is a sobering reminder of how prevalent these tragedies are," CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric said in a statement. "Parents and caregivers should never let their guard down around water, that means installing layers of protection, like fencing, alarms, pool covers, and self-latching features to keep unsupervised kids from accessing the water."

The CPSC’s report addresses nonfatal drownings for the period 2021 through 2023, and fatal drownings for the period 2019 through 2021, reflecting a lag in the reporting of fatal drowning statistics.

The number of fatal child drownings in 2021 was 380, up from the 339 fatal drownings reported in the previous year.

The data also found that between 2019 and 2021, there were an average of 358 pool- or spa-related fatal drownings per year, with 75% of the victims younger than 5 years old.

Many fatalities occur at home, with data showing that 81% of fatal drownings involving children occurred at the victim’s home, or at the home of a family member, friend, or neighbor, when the location was reported.

In the wake of its findings, the agency is calling for an increased focus on water safety throughout the summer.

Parents and guardians are advised to never leave a child unattended in or near water, and always designate an adult "water watcher" who is actively monitoring the situation, and not otherwise distracted.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, there were 42 non-boating drownings of people of all ages in Minnesota in 2023. There were 30 in 2022 and 53 in 2021, state data show.