Louisiana Sees 60% Spike in Child Drownings in 2020

Louisiana authorities say 2020 was one of the deadliest in recent history for child drownings—marking a 60 percent increase of those aged 0-14 who drowned in 2019.

There were 15 drownings in 2019 and 24 in 2020, according to the state Department of Health.

"Water safety and drowning prevention efforts remain as important as ever, especially as families return to water activities at pools, lakes and beaches," Doctor Joseph Kanter, state health officer, said in a statement. "Louisiana's latest numbers confirm that most child drownings occur in the warmer months and among children ages 1-4. This year, I urge everyone to take critical steps to reverse the upward trend in fatal child drownings."

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that from 2017 to 2019 Louisiana had the fourth highest drowning rate for children one years old to 14 years old in the United States. Downing is the third leading cause of death for Louisiana children in the one-to-fourteen age group.

Kanter cautioned adults to be prepared for unexpected emergencies with children.

"Parents and guardians can also prepare for potential emergencies by taking a CPR training class and learning basic water rescue skills," he said.

According to the nonprofit Stop Drowning Now group, an average of 3,500 to 4,000 people drown per year in the United States—about 10 fatal drownings per day. The group also found that drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children one years old to four years old.

The Louisiana Department of Health has given several recommendations for families to help prevent drowning deaths.

  • Watch children when they are in or around water at all times; avoid getting distracted.
  • Teach children how to swim.
  • If you own a pool or spa, install layers of protection, including a four-sided fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate.
  • Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings to avoid entrapments.
  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when boating or participating in other water activities.

According to the World Health Organization, about 236,000 people across the world died from drowning in 2019. Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury death, accounting for 7 percent of all injury-related deaths.

Louisiana, which has one of the highest child drowning rates in the country, has created a website at PoolSafely.gov to try to help people mitigate the chances of children drowning.

According to the Southern Medical Journal, drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages one to four and is among the leading causes of death for children of all ages.

Children Drown at Alarming Levels in Louisiana
OCTOBER 09: A "No Swimming" sign is washed over by waves at Galveston Beach as the outer bands of Hurricane Delta pass through on October 09, 2020 in Galveston, Texas. Hurricane Delta, a Category 3 storm, is expected to make landfall along the Gulf Coast on Friday with a 7-10ft storm surge and 140 mph winds. J. Countess/Getty Images