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Child Drownings in U.S. Pools, Spas Are on the Rise

THURSDAY, June 10, 2021 -- Pool and spa drowning deaths among U.S. children are spiking upwards, and restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic may also mean that fewer children are getting the swimming lessons that might keep them safe, the Consumer Product Safety Commission warns.

On average, there were about 400 reported pool/spa drowning deaths among children younger than age 15 each year from 2016 through 2018, according to new CPSC data. Three-quarters of those deaths involved children younger than 5, and 83 percent of those occurred in residential pools. Child drownings remain the leading cause of unintentional death among U.S. children ages 1 to 4, according to the CPSC.

"CPSC's latest report confirms that most child drownings involve children under the age of 5, whose limited experience around the water due to recent social distancing restrictions could put them at greater risk of drowning," Robert Adler, CPSC acting chair, said in an agency news release. "With fewer children attending swimming lessons during the past year, it is critical to refresh these and other lifesaving skills, while practicing increased vigilance both anywhere children are swimming and during non-swim times as well."

From 2018 to 2020, nearly eight in 10 nonfatal drowning injuries also occurred among children younger than 5. The data show that the number of pool/spa-related, hospital emergency department-treated, nonfatal drowning injuries fell from 2019 to 2020, but the decline is not statistically significant, according to the CPSC. The lower number of drownings is likely due to limitations on summer activities -- including group or public swimming -- during the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said.

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