Accidental Drowning Leading Cause of Death for Young Americans


According to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about ten Americans die every day from unintentional drowning incidents. Of these deaths, about 20 percent are children aged 14 or younger. Accidental drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of accidental injury death in the United States.

Drowning incidents and near-drowning accidents number in the thousands each year. For every person who dies from drowning, another dozen receive emergency care for nonfatal submersion injuries. Over 50 percent of drowning victims treated in emergency departments are hospitalized or transferred for further care. Nonfatal drowning injuries may cause severe brain damage, and result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning.


Common Causes of Accidental Drowning

Drowning incidents are unpredictable, though most are the result of the same factors and causes. Common causes of drowning accidents include the following:

  • Inability to Swim—many adults and children report that they cannot swim. This obviously poses a huge threat when around bodies of water and swimming pools. Research has shown that swimming lessons can greatly reduce the risk of drowning among children and adults.
  • Alcohol Use—for adolescents and adults, alcohol use is a factor in up to 70 percent of deaths associated with water recreation. About 20 percent of reported boating deaths involve alcohol.
  • Lack of Barriers—barriers such as pool fencing are a very effective method of preventing young children from gaining access to swimming pools. Isolation fences that cut off access to pool areas reduce a child’s risk of drowning by up to 83 percent.
  • Lack of Close Supervision—drowning can happen quickly and quietly. Anywhere there is water, children should be very closely supervised, including nearby swimming pools, bathtubs, water basins and natural bodies of water.
  • Failure to Wear Life Jackets—the majority of boating deaths that occur are caused by drowning. Up to 88 percent of drowning victims are not wearing life jackets at the time of death. Life jackets and other wearable water safety devices greatly reduce drowning accidents in swimming pools.
  • Physical Disorders—drowning is the most common cause of unintentional injury death for persons with physical maladies and seizure disorders. Swimming pools and bathtubs represent the highest drowning risks.

Who is Most at Risk of Accidental Drowning?

  • Nearly 80 percent of accidental drowning victims are male.
  • Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates.
  • The fatal unintentional drowning rate for African Americans is significantly higher than that of whites across all age groups. African Americans aged 11-12 drown in swimming pools at rates 10 times those of whites.

How to Recognize if Somebody is Drowning

To help prevent drowning accidents, stay vigilant, and look for these signs of drowning when persons are in the water:

  • Head low in the water
  • Mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over eyes
  • Not using legs
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making progress
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder

While Ohio does not have one of the highest rates of drowning, Ohio residents are not immune to accidents. From 1998 to 2000, over 300 drowning deaths occurred in the state of Ohio. Statistics of near-drownings are difficult to estimate, though community reports suggest over a thousand of near-drowning incidents occur each year in Ohio swimming pools, lakes and rivers.


Legal Representation for Victims of Accidental Drowning

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If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or death as a result of a drowning accident, and have questions about the legal remedies available to improve quality of life and medical care in Ohio, contact The Lyon Firm (800) 513-2403. You will speak directly with Mr. Lyon, and he will help you answer these critical questions.