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Water Safety

In the U.S. in 2002, 3,447 unintentional drowning deaths occurred, 1.19 per 100,000 people. In Alabama in 2002, 62 unintentional drowning deaths occurred, 1.4 per 100,000 people. Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death in Alabama and the U.S. for children age 1-14, second only to motor vehicle crashes.

Risk Factors

  • Drowning can occur in as little as one inch of water. It can occur in bathtubs, pools, hot tubs, while boating and swimming.
  • 88% of children were under some form of supervision when they drowned, according to child death review surveys. Of all drownings reviewed, 39% occurred in pools, 37% occurred in open bodies of water and 18% occurred in an around the home.
  • Most young children who drowned in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight less than 5 minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time.
  • Male children have a drowning rate two-to four times that of female children.


  • Never allow children to swim without adult supervision.
  • When supervising children, do not engage in distracting behaviors, such as talking or reading. Watch and listen continuously.
  • Four-sided isolation fencing at least five feet high and equipped with self-closing and self-latching gates should be installed around pools and spas to prevent access.
  • Never leave toys that may attract young children in or around a pool.
  • Children should be enrolled in swimming lessons by age eight.
  • Children should always wear a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) when boating or are in or near open bodies of water.
  • Rafts, water wings, inner tubes and other air-filled swimming aids and toys are not safety devices and will not protect children from drowning.
  • Educate children about the rules of water safety.


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