Drowning and Aquatic Injury Facts

Drowning and Aquatic Injury Facts

by Gerald M. Dworkin
08/09/02

The following statistics were taken from the 2001 issue of Accident Facts, published by the National Safety Council. They are based on death and injury statistics from 1998.

Heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and unintentional injuries were the leading causes of death in the United States. Unintentional injuries were the leading cause of death for individuals aged 1 to 38.

Unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death among persons in age groups from 1 to 38. Among persons of all ages, unintentional injuries are the fifth leading cause of death. For children in the 5 to 14 year age group, unintentional injuries claim more than three times as many lives as the next leading cause of death, accounting for almost 42% of the 7,791 total deaths of these persons. Approximately 60% of the victims in this age group are males.

Motor vehicle incidents, falls, poisoning by solids and liquids, drownings, and choking were the leading causes of unintentional injury death. Motor vehicle incidents were the leading cause of unintentional injury death overall and the leading cause of unintentional injury death from age 1 to 77. Drownings were the fourth leading cause of unintentional injury death. Drowning fatalities reached a high of 188 for 1-year-olds and were the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for ages 1 to 4, 6 to 18, and 20.

For children and youths aged 1 to 24 years, unintentional injuries are the leading cause of death, accounting for more than 42% of the 43,669 total deaths of these persons. Overall, motor vehicle incidents were the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for this age group, followed by drowning, solid and liquid poisonings, and fires and burns.

There were 4,406 drownings, of which males accounted for 3,575 (81%) and females for 831.
Under Age 5
559
Ages 5 to 14
444
Ages 15 to 24
821
Ages 25 to 44
1323
Ages 45 to 64
706
Ages 65 to 74
241
Ages 75 & over
312

Note: For every drowning, there are 6 to 10 near-drowning incidents resulting in permanent neurological impairment.

The following represents an estimate of the number of participants and injuries related to aquatic activities.

Swimming
• 57,900,000 participants / 99,691 injuries associated with swimming, swimming pools, pool slides, diving or diving boards, and swimming pool equipment.
Under Age 5
11.8%
Ages 5 to 14
43.8%
Ages 15 to 24
17.4%
Ages 25 to 64
24.3%
65 & over 2.7%

Fishing
• 46,700,000 participants / 70,514 injuries

Scuba Diving
• 2,300,000 participants / 1,542 injuries

Water Skiing
• 6,600,000 participants / 12,639 injuries

According to the United States Coast Guard, deaths associated with recreational boating numbered 734 in the United States and its territories. Drowning accounted for 517 of the deaths. The Coast Guard estimates that about 450 boaters who drowned could have been saved by wearing a life jacket. Alcohol was reported to be involved in 191 (26%) of the deaths.

Floods, which include flash floods, river floods, and urban/small stream floods, accounted for 68 deaths, 7% of the total weather-related fatalities. North Carolina recorded the highest number of flood fatalities with 24, followed by Pennsylvania and New Jersey with 6 fatalities each. Many of the deaths categorized as “in water” were due to being swept away by current after leaving a stalled vehicle. Flash floods accounted for 60 fatalities while river floods caused the remaining 8.

Lightning was responsible for 46 deaths and 243 injuries, which were about 20% below the 10-year fatality average of 57. Florida ranked highest with five deaths, followed by North Carolina with four. Of those who died, 24 were outside, 9 were under a tree, and 6 were in boats.

Thirty-two outbreaks of waterborne disease from 18 states were attributed to recreational water exposure (swimming pools, lakes, and ponds) and affected over 2,000 people. Eighteen of the 32 were outbreaks of gastroenteritis. Ten of the 18 gastroenteritis outbreaks were associated with treated pools (e.g. chlorinated pools) and most of the outbreaks were related to human fecal contaminants.

Leading Causes of Death in the United States

All Ages
1. Heart Disease
2. Cancer
3. Stroke
4. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
5. Unintentional Injuries
• Motor vehicle
• Falls
• Poison
• Drowning
• Ingestion of food, object
• All other unintentional injuries

Under 1 Year
1. Certain Conditions Originating in Perinatal Period
2. Congenital Anomalies
3. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
4. Unintentional Injuries
• Mechanical Suffocation
• Motor vehicle
• Ingestion of food, object
• Drowning
• Fire, Burns
• All other unintentional injuries
5. Heart Disease

1 to 4 Years
1. Unintentional Injuries
• Motor vehicle
• Drowning
• Fires, Burns
• Ingestion of food, object
• Mechanical suffocation
• All other unintentional injuries
2. Congenital anomalies
3. Homicide and legal intervention
4. Cancer
5. Heart disease

5 to 14 Years
1. Unintentional injuries
• Motor vehicle
• Drowning
• Fires, burns
• Firearms
• Mechanical suffocation
• All other unintentional injuries
2. Cancer
3. Homicide
4. Congenital anomalies
5. Heart disease
6. Suicide

15 to 24 Years
1. Unintentional injuries
• Motor vehicle
• Drowning
• Poison (solids/liquids)
• Firearms
• Falls
• All other unintentional injuries
2. Homicide or legal intervention
3. Suicide
4. Cancer
5. Heart disease
6. Congenital anomalies
7. Chronic obstructed pulmonary disease

25 to 34 Years
1. Unintentional injuries
• Motor vehicle
• Poison (solid/liquids)
• Drowning
• Falls
• Fires/burns
• All other unintentional injuries
2. Suicide
3. Homicide
4. Cancer
5. Heart disease
6. HIV
7. Stroke

35 to 44 Years
1. Cancer
2. Unintentional injuries
• Motor vehicle
• Poison (solids/liquids)
• Falls
• Drowning
• Fires, burns
• All other unintentional injuries
3. Heart disease
4. Suicide
5. HIV
6. Homicide
7. Chronic liver disease
8. Stroke
9. Diabetes

45 to 54 Years
1. Cancer
2. Heart disease
3. Unintentional injuries
• Motor vehicle
• Poison
• Falls
• Drowning
• Fires, burns
• All other
4. Chronic liver disease
5. Stroke
6. Suicide
7. Diabetes

55 to 64 Years
1. Cancer
2. Heart disease
3. Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases
4. Stroke
5. Diabetes
6. Unintentional injuries
• Motor vehicle
• Falls
• Poison
• Surgical, medical complications
• Fires, burns
7. Chronic liver disease

The following represents a listing of the unintentional injury deaths by state showing the causes of unintentional injury deaths in order. The number appearing to the right of each state represents the number of drownings for that state.

Unintentional Injury Deaths by State

Alabama 112

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Drowning
4. Choking
5. Fires, burns

Alaska 49

1. Motor vehicle
2. Drowning
3. Poison
4. Falls
5. Air transport

Arizona 107

1. Motor vehicle
2. Poison
3. Falls
4. Drowning
5. Natural environmental factors

Arkansas 57

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Fires and burns
4. Drowning
5. Choking

California 532

1. Motor vehicle
2. Poison
3. Falls
4. Drowning
5. Medical misadventures

Colorado 58

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Choking
5. Drowning

Connecticut 26

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Choking
5. Medical misadventures

Delaware 15

1. Motor vehicle
2. Poison
3. Drowning
4. Choking
5. Medical misadventures

District of Columbia 7

1. Motor vehicle
2. Poison
3. Falls
4. Fires and burns
5. Medical misadventures

Florida 441

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Drowning
5. Choking

Georgia 130

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Drowning
5. Choking

Hawaii 43

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Drowning
4. Poison
5. Choking

Idaho 33

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Drowning
4. Poison
5. Air transport

Illinois 119

1. Motor vehicle
2. Poison
3. Falls
4. Choking
5. Medical misadventures

Indiana 80

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Choking
4. Medical misadventures
5. Fires and burns

Iowa 32

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Choking
4. Fires and burns
5. Drowning

Kansas 49

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Choking
4. Drowning
5. Poison

Kentucky 77

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Drowning
5. Choking

Louisiana 134

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Drowning
4. Poison
5. Fires and burns

Maine 31

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Drowning
5. Choking

Maryland 56

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Medical misadventures
4. Choking
5. Drowning

Massachusetts 63

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Choking
4. Drowning
5. Fires and burns

Michigan 146

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Drowning
5. Fires and burns

Minnesota 66

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Drowning
4. Poison
5. Medical misadventures

Mississippi 93

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Fires and burns
4. Drowning
5. Choking

Missouri 98

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Choking
5. Drowning

Montana 21

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Natural environmental factors
4. Drowning
5. Fires and burns

Nebraska 19

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Choking
4. Poison
5. Drowning

Nevada 29

1. Motor vehicle
2. Poison
3. Falls
4. Air transport
5. Drowning

New Hampshire 13

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Choking
5. Drowning

New Jersey 58

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Choking
5. Medical misadventures

New Mexico 31

1. Motor vehicle
2. Poison
3. Falls
4. Natural environmental factors
5. Drowning

New York 120

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Fires and burns
5. Medical misadventures

North Carolina 118

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Choking
5. Drowning

North Dakota 10

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Machinery
4. Drowning
5. Natural environmental factors

Ohio 91

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Medical misadventures
5. Choking

Oklahoma 80

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Drowning
5. Fires and burns

Oregon 81

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Drowning
5. Medical misadventures

Pennsylvania 98

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Medical misadventures
5. Choking

Rhode Island 27

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Drowning
4. Choking
5. Medical misadventures

South Carolina 96

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Drowning
5. Choking

South Dakota 18

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Drowning
4. Poison
5. Machinery

Tennessee 110

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Fires and burns
5. Choking

Texas 385

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Drowning
5. Fires and burns

Utah 24

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Medical misadventures
4. Natural environmental factors
5. Drowning

Vermont 12

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Drowning
5. Fires and burns

Virginia 96

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Drowning
5. Choking

Washington 97

1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Drowning
5. Choking

West Virginia 32
1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Choking
4. Fires and burns
5. Drowning

Wisconsin 74
1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Drowning
5. Fires and burns

Wyoming 12
1. Motor vehicle
2. Falls
3. Poison
4. Drowning
5. Natural environmental factors