Child Drownings Tragically on the Increase

As summer approaches, so does swimming season. Seventy percent of drowning incidents take place between May and August, so that also means the risk of water accidents is at a peak. The child safety advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide recently released its 2018 water safety study, drawing attention to the risks of water to children and what can be done to reduce the likelihood of a tragedy.

Child drowning statistics

Tragically, there were 1,000 children who drowned nationwide in 2016. But that is not the end of the story; there were an additional 7,000 children who went to the ER in near-drowning incidents. This means that 150 families each week were impacted by drowning, not counting the near-drownings that are never taken to hospitals. The number of drownings has dropped by 28% since 2000 but has taken a recent turn with a 14% increase in 2015 and 2016.

Drowning is a leading cause of death by unintentional injury among children. It is the number one cause for children ages 1-4, the second leading cause for children 5-14, and the third leading cause for children 15-19. Additionally, the numbers show that there are certain demographics at greatest risk:

  • Boys were involved in 80% of drownings
  • White children were far less likely to be involved in a drowning, while African American children were almost twice as likely and American Indian and Alaskan Native children about 2.5 times as likely

So where do fatal drowning accident occur?

  • 43% in open water
  • 38% in pools
  • 9% in bathtubs
  • 10% in unspecified locations

Drowning accidents in New York and New Jersey

It should be no surprise that the waterways and other aquatic attractions of the East Coast are associated with drowning risks. In New York State, there are an average of 7 fatal drownings per year in public pools and beaches alone. Like the national statistics indicate, the risks are greater in the summer months, when there is also greater exposure to risks.

In New Jersey, drowning death have been on the rise in recent years. In a typical summer, the state sees approximately 8-10 drowning deaths but in 2017, there were more than 27. State law does not require hotels and motels to provide lifeguards, presenting a risk for guests.

Preventing child drowning deaths

The American Red Cross urges pool owners to put safety first by following precautions including:

  • Enclosing the pool with a 4-foot-high fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate
  • Covering pool or hot tub between uses and removing means of access like ladders or steps
  • Actively supervise children and never let anyone swim alone
  • Requiring young or less experienced swimmers to wear a life jacket meeting U.S. Coast Guard standards
  • Keeping water clean and clear
  • Enforcing safety rules
  • Ensuring those on site are trained in first aid and CPR and know how to respond to an aquatic emergency

Speak with a lawyer

Words cannot capture what families go through when a child or another loved one is killed or permanently disabled due to a drowning – especially when it was caused by someone else’s negligence. The New York and New Jersey personal injury lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman are committed to providing high-quality representation when you need it most. We understand the impact these accidents can have and are willing to fight for maximum compensation. Call today to speak with an attorney in Bergen County, NJ.

Additional child drowning resources

  1. SafeKids.org, Hidden Hazards: An Exploration of Open Water Drowning and Risks for Children May 2018, https://www.safekids.org/sites/default/files/water_safety_study_2018.pdf
  2. New York State Department of Health, Drowning Statistics: Historical Drowning Data, https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/swimming/docs/drowning_statistics.pdf
  3. Patch, 34 Die In New Jersey Water Deaths Since May As Trend Continues, https://patch.com/new-jersey/pointpleasant/18-die-new-jersey-water-deaths-two-months-trend-continues