Nonfatal and fatal drownings in recreational water settings--United States, 2001-2002

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2004 Jun 4;53(21):447-52.


Drowning is the seventh leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for all ages and the second leading cause of all injury deaths in children aged 1-14 years. Many of these injuries occur in recreational water settings, including pools, spas/hot tubs, and natural water settings (e.g., lakes, rivers, or oceans). To examine the incidence and characteristics of nonfatal and fatal unintentional drownings in recreational water settings, CDC analyzed 2001-2002 data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) and National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) death certificate data from 2001. This report summarizes that analysis, which indicated that, during 2001-2002, an estimated 4,174 persons on average per year were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments (EDs) for nonfatal unintentional drowning injuries in recreational water settings. Approximately 53% of persons required hospitalization or transfer for more specialized care. During 2001, a total of 3,372 persons suffered fatal unintentional drownings in recreational settings. Nonfatal and fatal injury rates were highest for children aged < or =4 years and for males of all ages. To reduce the number of drownings, environmental protections (e.g., isolation pool-fences and lifeguards) should be adopted; alcohol use should be avoided while swimming, boating, or water skiing or while supervising children; and all participants, caregivers, and supervisors should be knowledgeable regarding water-safety skills and be trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drowning / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance
  • Recreation
  • Risk
  • United States / epidemiology