Swimming Pool Safety

Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths to children ages 14 and under. A temporary lapse in supervision is a common factor in most drowning and near drowning. Child drowning can happen in a matter of seconds - in the time it takes to answer the phone. There is often no splashing to warn of trouble. 

Children can drown in small quantities of water and are at risk in their own homes from:

  • Bathtubs
  • Buckets
  • Diaper pails
  • Hot tubs
  • Spas
  • Swimming pools
  • Toilets
  • Wading pools

Deaths & Injuries

  • A swimming pool is 14 times more likely than a motor vehicle to be involved in the death of a child age 4 and under.
  • Each year, an estimated 5,000 children, ages 14 and under, are hospitalized due to near drowning.
  • Of children surviving near drowning, 5 to 20 percent suffer severe and permanent disability.

Where Drowning Happens

  • Approximately 50 percent of preschooler drowning occurs in residential swimming pools.
  • Each year, more than 2,000 preschool ages children near drowning occur in residential pools.
  • Of preschooler pool drowning, 65 percent occur in the child's home pool and 33 percent at the homes of friends, neighbors or relatives.
  • Each year, 350 drownings (for all ages) happen in bathtubs.
  • Each year, approximately 40 children drown in five-gallon buckets.

How & When Drownings Happen

  • Of all preschoolers who drown, 70 percent are in the care of one of both parents at the time of the drowning.
  • Of all preschoolers who drown, 75 percent are missing from sight for five minutes or less.
  • Two-thirds of all drownings happen between May and August.
  • Of all drownings, 40 percent occur on Saturdays and Sundays.

Who is at Risk

  • Of all age groups, children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning death rate.


  • Healthcare costs per near-drowning victim typically range from $75,000 for initial emergency room treatment to $180,000 a year for long term care.
  • The annual economic costs of residential pool drownings and near drownings of young children are estimated to be $450 million to $650 million.


  • While there is no substitute for adult supervision, safeguards and barriers around pools and hot tubs provide additional protection for children.
  • Estimates predict that the widespread use of pool fencing would prevent 50 to 90 percent of pediatric pool drownings and near drownings.