As the country begins to reopen, so do the nation’s pools. Each month, we take a look at the total number of drownings across the nation. As you’ll see, the U.S. Drowning Stats for May 2020 show a decline in drowning deaths… but that’s not really the whole picture. After all, many counties have not opened their community pools or beaches yet. Put simply, there were less people in the water during the month of May.

We’ll take that into account as we explore the U.S. Drowning Stats for May 2020. As always, these drowning stats and maps are being shared by Life Saver Pool Fence, but they were collected by Total Aquatic Programming.

U.S. Drowning Stats for May 2020

In May, the total number of drownings are down compared to last year’s stats. While this is true, remember that, beyond cold weather, citizens have also needed to contend with a pandemic. So as you can imagine, the numbers are lower than usual.This seems like great news, but a lot of these successes have to be attributed to circumstances such as the ones mentioned above.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is perfectly safe to swim during the COVID-19 pandemic if you following proper social distancing and safety precautions. For this reason, drowning danger is still very much present. COVID-19 has merely slowed it. Not only that, the CDC also states that drowning is responsible for more deaths among children aged one through four than any other cause, except for birth defects.

The shared data in this blog post clearly indicates the exact ages and causes of the previous month’s drowning incidents. As you can see, the U.S. Drowning Stats for May 2020 are compared with earlier May statistics. This stretches back to 2009 when the report was started. Through careful examination of these numbers, experts are able to recognize on areas where our education is lacking.

As our regular monthly readers know, this basic 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

Chart: Drowning Stats for May 2020

U.S. Drowning Stats for May 2020

Now let’s take a closer look at these numbers. As you can see, the total number of drownings is down from previous years. Last year it was 263, now it is 238. Additionally, the drowning stats both for children aged four and up and children aged 12 and up are nearly half what they were last year. The kids weren’t alone. Adults also saw a decline in drowning. Obviously, this is terrific news.

Unfortunately, the stats don’t reflect only good news. Somehow, even amidst this pandemic and closed public swimming spaces, the U.S. drowning stats during May 2020 were the worst month for teen drownings. Teens have specific needs when it comes to swimming safety. Our detailed teen safety blog post has a lot of helpful information that can hopefully limit the danger for the coming months. After all, pool season is nearly upon us.

Drowning Map for 2019/2020

In addition to the May 2020 drowning stats above, we have been provided 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 through July 2019.


Understanding The Numbers

Up next, here is the 2020 detailed map of child drownings. Please note that the numbers inside each state on this map represent the ages of the children, not the number of children. Each age represents one child. So, if a child was 10-11-12 years old, their age is underlined so as not to confuse as two separate numbers.  For example, a 12-year-old would be listed on the map as “12.”


Where Do These Drowning Stats Come From?

As mentioned earlier, 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.