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Drowning Deaths Down Overall, But Still a Problem

Rates increased for adults 45 to 84; kids 4 and under and adults 85 and older at highest risk


Locations of the drowning also varied by age, the findings showed. Drowning happened most often in a bath tub for those under age 1 and age 85 and above. The swimming pool was the most likely place of death for children aged 1 to 4. Those aged 5 to 84 were most likely to drown in natural water settings.

The report was published in the CDC's April edition of the NCHS Data Brief.

"The CDC report highlights the need for qualified supervision in all aquatic settings, especially natural water," said Tom Gill, a spokesperson for the U.S. Lifesaving Association. The report reminds folks to seek out water areas guarded by certified lifeguards, he said.

Swimming near a lifeguard reduces the risk of drowning, said B. Chris Brewster, president of the U.S. Lifesaving Association (USLA). "USLA statistics consistently indicated that the chance of drowning death at a beach protected by lifeguards is one in 18 million beach visits," he said.

Xu added that parents and caregivers should "keep an eye on the kids," whether indoors or outdoors and near bodies of water.

Gill agreed. "Parents must maintain constant supervision over children in aquatic settings," he said. Parents who aren't qualified to protect their children or themselves should be sure to swim only when qualified lifeguards are present, Gill added.

The American Red Cross has additional tips for safe swimming:

  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket if you are inexperienced as a swimmer, but don't rely on the jackets alone.
  • Enroll in learn-to-swim courses.
  • Secure a home pool with appropriate barriers.
  • If a child turns up missing, check water sources first, since seconds count.
  • Consider home pool safety and water safety classes.

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