Drowning is the sixth leading cause of death from unintentional injury for persons of all ages in the United States. Drowning is the first leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 4 and the second leading cause of death for children aged 1 to 14. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC) further report that "...every day, about ten people die from unintentional drowning..." and that "...of these, two are children aged 14 or younger."(1) Every year approximately 3500 persons drown in non-boating related incidents with another 500 dying from drowning due to watercraft use.


For all ages and races, males are nearly four times more likely to drown than females, and for children aged 0 to 19 males are three times more likely to drown than females. African-Americans, American Indians and Alaskan Natives of all ages and both sexes are about 1.5 times more likely to drown than non-Hispanic Whites, and their children aged 5 to 14 are two to three times more likely to die from drowning than White children (1, 2 ).

Based on 2009 statistics for the United States evaluated by the National Safety Council (NSC), the odds of dying from unintentional injury by drowning are 1 in 1,123 compared to death by heart disease (1 in 6), cancer (1 in 7), motor vehicle accidents (1 in 88) and air transportation accidents (1 in 7,032) (3).

Globally, drowning is the third leading cause of death with an estimated 388,000 deaths in 2004, but it is the first leading cause of death of children. The 2011 World Conference on Drowning Prevention (WCDP) estimated that 96% of the global burden from drowning occurs in low to middle income countries and that the great majority of those deaths are children, teens and young adults aged 1 to 19 (4). Most drowning fatalities occur in Africa followed closely by Asia.