Minnesota Safety Council
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NOTE: Statistics reflect most current data available.

How big is the problem?
In 2007, there were 3,443 fatal unintentional drownings in the United States, averaging ten deaths per day. An additional 496 people died, from drowning and other causes, in boating-related incidents.
More than one in five fatal drowning victims are children 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another four received emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
Nonfatal drownings can cause brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities including memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state).

Who is most at risk?
Males: In 2007, males were 3.7 times more likely than females to die from unintentional drownings in the United States.
Children: In 2007, of all children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, almost 30% died from drowning. Although drowning rates have slowly declined, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years.
Certain ethnic groups:
  • The fatal drowning rate of African American children ages 5 to 14 is 3.1 times that of white children in the same age range. For American Indian and Alaskan Native children, the fatal drowning rate is 2.2 times higher than for white children.
  • Factors such as the physical environment (e.g., access to swimming pools) and a combination of social and cultural issues (e.g., valuing swimming skills and choosing recreational water-related activities) may contribute to these racial differences in drowning rates.

Prevention Tips
Never leave a child unattended in and around water. A child can drown in as little as one inch of water in the same time it takes to answer the doorbell or telephone.
Never leave a child unsupervised in or around a swimming pool. Play flotation devices and waterwings are not a substitute for a life jacket or supervision. CPR training is suggested for pool owners and water enthusiasts.
Install four-sided isolation fencing, at least five feet high, equipped with self-closing and self-latching gates, that completely surround the swimming pool. The fencing should prevent direct access from the house and yard.
When boating, always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD. It is estimated that 85% of boating-relating drownings could have been saved if the victim had been wearing a PFD. Air-filled "swimming aides" are not considered safety devices and are not a substitute for PFDs.

Since May 6, 2005, children under age 10 have been required to wear a life jacket while boating on Minnesota waters (not when the boat is tied up at a dock or permanent mooring).

To learn more about the life jacket law for kids in Minnesota, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/boatwater/pfd_childlaw.html.

For additional information contact the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at (651) 296-6157.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Safe Kids Worldwide
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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Contact the Minnesota Safety Council at msc@minnesotasafetycouncil.org
or phone 651-291-9150 or 1-800-444-9150