Objectives: This study described childhood drowning rates and circumstances in Harris County, a large metropolitan area in Texas, and compared case ascertainment between data sources.
Methods: Drowning rates among Harris County residents newborn through 19 years of age were calculated from death certificate data (1983 through 1989), and local childhood drowning hazards were described on the basis of medical examiner data (1983 through 1990). Cases from both sources were compared to determine sensitivity of sources.
Results: The drowning rate among Harris County residents newborn through 19 years of age was 3.8 per 100,000 person-years. The drowning rates among Blacks and Hispanics exceeded that of Whites by 56% and 19%, respectively. The majority of the 196 unintentional drownings occurred in swimming pools. Half of the pool drownings occurred in apartment pools and 33% in private home pools. The medical examiner logbook identified a slightly higher number of drownings than did death certificates. International Classification of Diseases external cause of death codes were of limited use in describing drowning circumstances.
Conclusions: Childhood drowning hazards not previously reported were identified, specifically hazards in apartment pools and those among Hispanic children.