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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Drowning facts and risks

Drowning facts

U.S.

  • From 2005-2009, there were an average of 3,533 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States — averaging about ten deaths per day. An additional 347 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.
    ...Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, May 2012

  • Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14 years. More than one in five fatal drowning victims are children ages 14 and younger.
    ...CDC, Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, May 2012

  • A study conducted by the CDC to assess self-reported swimming ability found that in the U.S., younger respondents reported greater swimming ability than older respondents and that swimming ability increased with education level.
    ....CDC, Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, May 2012

Washington

  • Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children and teens ages 1 to 17 in Washington.
    ...WA Department of Health, Fatal Injury Data Tables, November 2012

  • In 2012, there were 112 unintentional drowning deaths to Washington residents of all ages; 22 of these deaths were of children younger than 18 years old.
    ...WA Department of Health, Fatal Injury Data Tables, November 2012

  • The fatal drowning rate for Washington in 2012 was 1.6 per 100,000 population, higher than the national rate of 1.2 per 100,000 population in 2010. Healthy People 2020 has a target drowning rate of 1.1 per 100,000 population by the year 2020.
    ...WA Department of Health, Fatal Injury Data Tables, November 2012

King County

  • From 2008 to 2012, 122 drowning deaths involving King County residents were reported; 9 of these deaths were of children ages 17 years and younger.
    ...WA Department of Health, Fatal Injury Data Tables, November 2012

  • In 2012, the fatal drowning rate in King County was 1.3 per 100,000 population, which was lower than Washington State’s rate overall.
    ...WA Department of Health, Fatal Injury Data Tables, November 2012

  • From 2008 to 2012, 55 King County residents were hospitalized for non-fatal drownings. Near drownings may damage the brain and cause long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and even permanent loss of basic functioning.
    ...WA Department of Health, Nonfatal Injury Data Tables, November 2012
Who is at risk
  • CHILDREN: In 2012, there were 6 drowning deaths in children 14 years and under in Washington; 2010 had 11 drowning deaths in this same age group. Many drownings in young children occur in bathtubs, buckets and swimming pools; although drowning rates have declined, drowning is still the 2nd leading cause of death in children ages 1-14.
    ...WA Department of Health, Injury Data Tables, November 2012

  • MALES: In 2007, males were 2.7 times more likely to drown than females.
    ...CDC, Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, April 2011

  • ALCOHOL USE: Alcohol influences balance coordination and judgment. It is involved in up to half of adolescent and adult deaths associated with water recreation.
    ...CDC, Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, May 2012

  • MINORITIES: Between 2000 and 2007, the fatal unintentional drowning rate nationally for African Americans across all ages was 1.2 times that of whites. For American Indians and Alaskan Natives, this rate was 1.7 times that of whites.
    ...CDC, Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, April 2011

  • BOATERS: In 2012, the Coast Guard counted 4,515 accidents that involved 651 deaths, 3,000 injuries and approximately $38 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.
    ...United States Coast Guard, Recreational Boating Statistics, 2012

    85% of those who drowned in boating accidents in the U.S. in 2010 were not wearing a life jacket.
    ...United States Coast Guard, Recreational Boating Statistics, 2012

    Visit the Boater Safety page to learn how you can be a safe boater or boat occupant.