Drowning is the leading cause of death for children under 5, and the second leading cause of death for those under 14. Many of these deaths occur in swimming pools. Between 2019 and 2021, nearly 2,500 people drowned in swimming pools — and nearly a third of them were children.

Key findings:

  • Florida, California, and Texas have the most pool drownings overall.
  • Florida, Arizona, and Nevada have the highest rates of pool drownings.
  • Nearly 700 children under the age of 5 have drowned in pools since 2019.
  • In Kentucky, 63% of all pool drownings are children under 5.
  • A total of 2,454 pool drownings occurred nationwide between 2019 and 2021.

States with the most pool-related fatalities

Warm-weather states in the South and Southwest have both the highest numbers of drownings and the highest drowning rates. Florida, California, and Texas have each had more than 250 pool drownings in the last three years. Smaller states like Arizona, Nevada, and Louisiana have higher rates of pool fatalities. Overall, Florida is the most dangerous state when it comes to pools. It has the most total drowning deaths, 458, and the highest rate, 0.7 per 100,000.

Pool drowning fatalities by state
State Total drowning deaths Under 5 years old 5 to 14 years old
U.S. 2,454 709 94
Alabama 43 16  
Arizona 131 45  
Arkansas 22    
California 367 99 21
Colorado 21    
Florida 458 127 20
Georgia 104 31  
Hawaii 15    
Illinois 56 16  
Indiana 35 14  
Iowa 10    
Kansas 14    
Kentucky 19 12  
Louisiana 55 24  
Maryland 28    
Massachusetts 17    
Michigan 34 13  
Minnesota 22    
Mississippi 27 11  
Missouri 49 17  
Nevada 46 10  
New Jersey 47 13  
New Mexico 12    
New York 84 19  
North Carolina 55 21  
Ohio 66 32  
Oklahoma 32 10  
Pennsylvania 64 17  
South Carolina 39    
Tennessee 42 16  
Texas 281 107 28
Utah 18    
Virginia 41 13  
Washington 28    
Wisconsin 18    
Methodology: Data sourced from the CDC's “Current Final Multiple Cause of Death” data request form. Total deaths and deaths by age group are for the period 2019-2021.

Nationwide, 31% of pool-related drownings involve a child under the age of 5. However, in Kentucky, Ohio, and Texas, that number is closer to 60%. Most pool-related drownings occur in the summer, with 65% of all pool drownings happening in June, July, and August.

Between 2019 and 2021, 788 children under the age of 14 died in pools nationwide. These states had the highest numbers of pool-related child fatalities:

  • Florida: 147
  • Texas: 135
  • California: 120
  • Arizona: 45
  • Ohio: 32
  • Georgia: 31

Informational graphic regarding pool injury statistics

Dangers of drowning injuries in residential pools

Non-fatal drowning injuries can be life-changing. They are also far more common than fatalities. Non-fatal drowning incidents have the potential to result in brain damage and other severe consequences, such as enduring long-term disabilities. Nationwide, there have been 18,600 non-fatal drowning injuries involving a child over the last three years. In 75% of these cases, the child was under the age of 5.

Around 50% of non-fatal drowning injuries involving a child happened at a residential pool. However, 25% happened at a public pool and 25% happened at an unknown location.

Pool safety tips for homeowners

Homeowners and their adult guests can take an active role in preventing drowning-related injuries. For insurance purposes, some companies won't insure a house with a pool that is not enclosed by a fence to keep trespassers from accessing it. Besides always keeping an eye out, the following tips can help you keep your children safe while they play in the pool.

  1. Designate one person to watch each child. If everyone is watching everyone, no one is watching anyone.
  2. Install water barriers around pools and hot tubs.
  3. If a child is missing, check the water first.
  4. Have a list of the rules and safety instructions and enforce them at all times with all guests.
  5. Know basic water rescue skills like first aid and CPR.
  6. Floaties do not prevent drownings.
  7. Keep the pool visible at all times. Make sure you can see the bottom and remove toys from the pool when they're not being used.
“A pool is a tremendous source of family fun but also a tremendous responsibility. The need to supervise children and maintain rules for responsible behavior cannot be overstated.” — Rob Bhatt, QuoteWizard Analyst

Insurance coverage to protect homeowners with pools

As much fun as pools are, they pose an increased liability risk to homeowners. The insurance industry describes pools as "attractive nuisances," essentially labeling them dangerous fun. Homeowners with pools need to be aware of the levels of liability coverage on their home insurance policies.

If someone is injured on your property, your home insurance liability coverage takes care of medical bills and civil settlements. All home insurance policies have liability coverage. A standard HO-3 home insurance policy comes with $100,000 in liability coverage. Homeowners with pools should increase their liability coverage to $500,000 or more. But this amount may still not be enough. Your liability limits should match your net worth plus your mortgage balance in order to protect your assets.

It usually does not cost too much to increase your liability limit to $500,000. You can also purchase an umbrella policy for additional protection.

Increasing liability coverage on your home insurance policy is simple. Contact your insurance agent or provider and request an increase in liability coverage. Bumping coverage from $100,000 to over $500,000 only increases your home insurance premium by about 10% to 15%.

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