Now that the dust has settled on 2020, let’s take a look at the drowning stats for December 2020 and what lessons can be learned from them.

Additionally, we’ll look at how the overall numbers for 2020 and how they compare to the overall numbers for each of the past 11 years of drowning statistics.

U.S. Drowning Stats for December 2020

For the past few years, we’ve been happy to share statistics and maps provided to us by Total Aquatic Programming. This first chart below will explore the drowning stats for the month of December for each year, going back to 2009.

As always, these drowning stats point to potential problem areas when it comes to water safety. Are more children drowning? How about adults? Where in the country are these incidents occurring? With careful analysis over the years, water safety experts are able to pinpoint potential dangers. This leads them to discover new ways of educating the public on best water safety practices.

With that in mind, let’s get to the statistics. Total Aquatic Programming’s data tracks more than 15 separate items from every drowning that occurs throughout the country.

These items include, but are not limited to:

  • date
  • state
  • city
  • county
  • age and gender of the victim
  • ethnicity, if recorded
  • body of water in which the drowning occurred
  • and several other circumstances that can help to provide some guidance in the prevention of future drownings.

Chart: Drowning Stats for December 2009-2020

Dec 2020 drowning stats 

This chart focuses on four key age groups and how they are affected by drowning:

  • Children aged four and younger
  • Children aged 12 and under
  • Teenagers
  • Adults, meaning anyone older than teens

Fortunately, it seems that December 2020 has one of the lower rates of drowning incidents in recent times. In fact, it is the second lowest of the past 11 years next to 2013. That’s great news!

Dec 2020 drowning chart

What could be the reason for this decrease in drownings? Well, it’s hard to say offhand, but a safe bet would have to be the pandemic. Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that it is safe to swim during the COVID-19 pandemic, many public pools have been closed. Depending on where you live, there simply may not have been many opportunities to take a dip, go ice skating or hop on a boat.

While the COVID-19 pandemic can be downright terrifying, at least there is this silver lining.

Understanding The Numbers: Drowning Maps for 2019/2020

In addition to the drowning stats for December 2020, Total Aquatic Programming has provided us with two additional graphics. The first is a nationwide drowning map for all of 2019. This map identifies “hot spots” of child drowning incidents on a state-by-state basis. Please take a look at the map below. It has been updated to include all drownings that occurred since July 2019.


Up next is the detailed 2020 map that takes a closer look at child drownings. Please note that the numbers inside each state on this map represent the ages of the children involved in these incidents, not the number of children. Each age represents one child. For example, a 12-year-old would be listed on the map as “12.”


Looking Back Through the Years

Finally, let’s zoom out to see the bigger picture. Total Aquatic Programming also provided an overview of drowning stats for every year going back to 2009.

Year by Year Summary

As you can see, we’ve made quite a bit of progress. if drownings were increasing at the same rate as population growth over the past 11 years, the number of drownings would be 16% higher than they are currently. So in spite of the raw numbers, when put into proper context, this is a success!

Year by Year Chart 1

Where Do These Drowning Stats Come From?

All of these U.S. Drowning Stats and graphics are brought to us courtesy of Sue and Mick Nelson of Total Aquatic Programming, LLC. USA Swimming, the national governing body for competitive swimming in the United States, also uses this information.

If you are interested in learning more about the people behind this data, watch our full Child Safety Source interview with Mick Nelson. Additionally, you can visit Total Aquatic Programming’s official website.