After Declining For Years, Drowning Deaths Are On The Rise

A new study from the CDC shows drownings are on the rise after declining for decades. CBS's Michael George has more on how some parents are trying to prevent a tragedy in today's Medical Minute.

Wednesday, May 15th 2024, 12:36 pm

By: CBS News

Drowning deaths are on the rise after declining for decades.

A new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows more than 4,500 people died due to drowning every year from 2020 to 2022. That's 500 more per year than compared to 2019.

CDC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Debra Houry said the pandemic may be one contributor.

"Pools were shut down, so people may not have had those swim lessons. Children may have been unsupervised more," she said.

The highest increases were in children ages 1-4 and older adults.

"We also saw increases by race, like African Americans and Hispanics. We want to make sure that our youngest have access to swim lessons. If you don't know how to swim, such as some of our older adults or some from different racial groups, we wanna make sure everybody has those life skills," said Dr. Houry.

In addition to traditional swim lessons for very young children, there are also "survival" swim lessons.

Rebecca Weiner, with Aquafinz Infant Aquatics, said unlike traditional lessons, survival swim can be taught in weeks.

Survival swim gives them the ability to be on their tummy and then roll themselves independently onto their back to float, rest, and breathe to either wait for help to arrive if they find the water alone or to continue to swim," she said.

Vanessa Soto sees the progress with five-year-old Emory and three-year-old Delilah.

"We just came back from our spring break and seeing all the work that they've put in, it was just beautiful to watch," she said

Now that Emory can survive, she's perfecting her backstroke.

Adults also need to hear the message about swim safety. Forty million adults in the U.S. reported not knowing how to swim in the survey and more than half reported they have never taken swim lessons.


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