Swimming pool drownings among US residents aged 5-24 years: understanding racial/ethnic disparities

Am J Public Health. 2006 Apr;96(4):728-33. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2004.057067. Epub 2006 Feb 28.


Objective: We examined circumstances surrounding swimming pool drownings among US residents aged 5 to 24 years to understand why Black males and other racial/ethnic groups have high drowning rates.

Methods: We obtained data about drowning deaths in the United States (1995-1998) from death certificates, medical examiner reports, and newspaper clippings collected by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Results: During the study period, 678 US residents aged 5 to 24 years drowned in pools. Seventy-five percent were male, 47% were Black, 33% were White, and 12% were Hispanic. Drowning rates were highest among Black males, and this increased risk persisted after we controlled for income. The majority of Black victims (51%) drowned in public pools, the majority of White victims (55%) drowned in residential pools, and the majority of Hispanic victims (35%) drowned in neighborhood pools (e.g., an apartment complex pool). Foreign-born males also had an increased risk for drowning compared with American-born males.

Conclusions: Targeted interventions are needed to reduce the incidence of swimming pool drownings across racial/ethnic groups, particularly adult supervision at public pools.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Black People / statistics & numerical data
  • Black or African American
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Drowning / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Indians, North American / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Swimming Pools*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data