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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 2014

  • In 2013, there were 103 unintentional drowning deaths to Washington residents of all ages; 13 of these deaths were of children younger than 18 years old.
    ...WA Department of Health, Fatal Injury Data Tables, November 2014

  • The fatal drowning rate for Washington in 2013 was 1.5 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 2014

King County

  • From 2009 to 2013, 119 drowning deaths involving King County residents were reported; 7 of these deaths were of children ages 17 years and younger.
    ...WA Department of Health, Fatal Injury Data Tables, November 2014

  • In 2013, the fatal drowning rate in King County was 1.2 per 100,000 population, which was lower than Washington State's rate overall.
    ...WA Department of Health, Fatal Injury Data Tables, November 2014

  • From 2009 to 2013, 56 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 2014


Who is at risk

  • CHILDREN: Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates and about one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger. In 2013, there were 11 drowning deaths in children 14 years and under in Washington. 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.
    ...CDC, Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, October 2014
    ...WA Department of Health, Injury Data Tables, November 2014

  • MALES: Nearly 80% of people who die from drowning are male.
    ...CDC, Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, October 2014

  • 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 2005 and 2009, the fatal unintentional drowning rate nationally for African Americans across all ages was significantly higher than that of whites. The fatal drowning rate of African American children ages 5 to 14 is almost three times that of white children in the same age range. The disparity is greatest among those 11-12 years where African Americans drown in swimming pools at rates 10 times those of whites. For American Indians and Alaskan Natives, this rate was 1.7 times that of whites.
    ...CDC, Unintentional Drowning Fact Sheet, October 2014

  • BOATERS: In 2014, the U.S. Coast Guard reports there were 4,064 boating accidents that involved 610 deaths, 2,678 injuries and approximately $39 million dollars of damage to property.
    ...United States Coast Guard, Recreational Boating Statistics, 2014

    84% of those who drowned in boating accidents in the U.S. in 2014 were not wearing a life jacket.
    ...United States Coast Guard, Recreational Boating Statistics, 2014

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