News and HeadlinesPublic Safety


July has the highest number of drowning deaths. Here's how to prevent them

Drowning is also the leading cause of death for kids under age 4.
accidental drownings.jpg
Posted at 4:39 PM, Jul 05, 2024

The number of annual drowning deaths in the U.S. is high, particularly in the month of July, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rate of monthly accidental drowning deaths in 2023 peaked in July with 760 that month. The number was below the 790 deaths in July 2022, but higher than the 748 in July 2021. There were at least 839 accidental drownings in July 2020 at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

From 2020 to 2022, the U.S. saw over 4,500 deaths from drownings each year, an increase from 4,000 deaths in 2019.

Drowning is also the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 1 and 4 and one of the top three leading causes of injury or death for anyone between the ages of 5 and 34, according to the CDC.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement in June 2023 encouraging both parents and doctors to prioritize water safety, especially during the summer months when more families head to swimming pools, beaches and lakes.

"We have to look at swimming as a basic life skill, like learning to read. Because it is," pediatrician Dr. Andrew Kiragu said in the statement. "Swimming is a skill that can save your life or the life of your child. It's something everyone needs to learn."

The National Drowning Prevention Alliance, a nonprofit founded in 2005, is dedicated to lowering the number of drownings and promoting water safety. Adam Katchmarchi, the group's executive director, previously shared with "GMA" the organization's recommendations for staying safe near water.

"Oftentimes, parents think that they will see something or hear something when their child is drowning, and unfortunately, it's very silent and very quick," Katchmarchi said. "We recommend parents practice five simple layers of protection they can do to keep their child safe around the water."

The National Drowning Prevention Alliance recommends these top five water safety tips:

Install and use alarms and fences

Barriers like proper fencing and alarms can "help restrict access to water and provide notification when someone enters the area where the water body is, such as a backyard pool," Katchmarchi said.

Actively supervise swimmers and water activities

Katchmarchi emphasized the importance of active monitoring while swimming or recreating near water.

"We recommend that supervising adults do three things. We call them the three C's: They are competent, capable and constant, so that they are capable of making a rescue and that supervision is constant at all times," Katchmarchi said.

He added, "Part of the supervision element is … making sure that you can actively supervise your child anytime they're around or in the water, and one of those ways is to make sure that they have a bright colored swimsuit."

Learn how to swim

"We also recommend swimming lessons, making sure a child -- and even adults -- are water competent and have basic survival skills in the water," Katchmarchi said.

Use life jackets

In addition, the National Drowning Prevention Alliance urges the use of U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets in, near or around bodies of water and while boating.

"Life jackets should be sized appropriately for the wearer. When other layers of protection may break down, life jackets can help prevent unintentional drowning," the organization states on its website.

Prepare for any emergencies

"No one intends for these incidents to happen, but [by] taking simple steps, we can reduce the risk," Katchmarchi said.

He added that, oftentimes, the difference between life and death is "only a few seconds," and ensuring parents can "recognize that situation and provide care appropriately" is crucial.

Emergency preparedness also includes calling 911 if the situation calls for it, learning and practicing CPR, and learning how to use water safety and rescue equipment.