Top 5 Causes of Child Death | Number One May Surprise You!

What is the leading cause of accidental death in children 1–4 years of age?

  1. Motor Vehicle Accidents?
  2. Fires and Burns?
  3. Ingestion of poisons?
  4. Suffocation/Strangulation?

Top 5 Causes of Child Death - Do You Know Number 1?

That was a trick question, and hopefully most of you know the correct, tragic answer. Drowning is responsible for more deaths among children 1-4 than any other cause except congenital anomalies (birth defects) according to CDC fatal injury data.

The summer months are here (May thru August) when drowning deaths among children increase nearly 90%. So, I wanted to post a quick blog that I hope you will share with your family and friends. It is not all inclusive, but I hope it may save children’s lives.

Please read if your kids are around ANY type of pool:

  • Every second counts. If a child is missing, always look in the pool or hot-tub first.
  • Always remember a child drowning is SILENT. No splashing or calling for help.
  • Learn and practice CPR so you can help in an emergency.
  • Teach children to swim, float and other basic life-saving skills; but never consider young children “drown-proof” because they have had swimming lessons.
  • Empty and put away smaller portable pools after every use.
  • Once the pool is set up, ensure high levels of supervision.
  • Fence all pools and encourage your neighbors to do the same.
  • Cover larger portable pools and put access ladders away when adults are not present.
  • Install alarms on doors leading from the house to the pool area that will alert you when someone enters the pool area.
  • Make sure your neighbors, babysitters and visitors know about the pool’s presence in your yard.

All of these are very important, but I highlighted the second one in red because I feel it’s one of the big misconceptions about drowning. A drowning child is SILENT. There will be no calls for help. No splashing or thrashing around.

Adult supervision is key. If your child is in or near the pool (of any size, even a temporary pool) you need to watch them. And I don’t mean watch them while reading Fifty Shades of Grey or doing some yard work. I mean eyes on watching.

[notice] I know this isn’t a “happy” post, but if we can save one child, it was worth it. Please share (you can use the buttons below) with your family and friends if you wish.[/notice]



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  1. Thank you so much for posting this; it’s really important! And you’re so right about the misconception of kids thrashing around if they’re in trouble…they don’t.

    When I was 2 my family was all hanging out in my aunt’s pool area and I fell in. I don’t remember any of this obviously, but I’ve been told the story a thousand times. None of the adults were paying very close attention at the time and there wasn’t any noise when I fell in. Luckily my cousin was totally paying attention and jumped right in after me within about a second. But no one would have noticed right away that there was an issue because there wasn’t any sound. So be careful!

    1. OMG… that’s so scary, Jessi. Thank God for your cousin paying attention. I really appreciate you sharing your story.

      And it’s really not just kids. I read something a few years ago about most adult drowners almost never make a make a sound… they can’t. I just found the source of that info: “It Doesn’t Look Like They’re Drowning” – How To Recognize the Instinctive Drowning Response.

      Oh, and I appreciate tip on your recent post that you shouldn’t put the toothbrush in your mouth after cleaning grout with it. 😉

  2. This message can’t be put out there enough. I live in California, the land of pools, and this is on my mind all the time. I’ve read about these programs that can help kids even a year old learn to self-right themselves after falling in, and float on their backs until someone finds them. Can’t say how well-received those programs are, but I’ve been thinking about them for our two-year old, even though we don’t own a pool.

    And I think it’s a good reminder to look in the pool first.


    1. Thank you, Neal. I agree that teaching basic swimming/floating skills early on is a good idea, but clearly we can never reduce our vigilance as a result. I know you’re not saying that. Did your 2 year old take that class?

  3. That did surprise me. With children in that age bracket, though, it’s good to know. A reminder that I need to put my kids back in swim lessons this summer! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    1. My daughter missed swim lessons the last time due to illness, and I’m eager to get her back into them, Bonnie. Yes, I was surprised, too. Thank you so much for your comment. I know you’re not saying this, but I want to stress to anyone reading this:

      Teach children to swim, float and other basic life-saving skills; BUT never consider young children “drown-proof” because they have had swimming lessons.

    • Meryl Neiman on at

    Such an important post! Parents spend too much time worrying about the stranger/pedophile and not enough time thinking about the dangers right in and around their home. It’s also a good practice point to ask a parent before you send your child over for a playdate whether the home has a pool. Because we are often uncomfortable asking some of these questions, or just plain forget to ask or tell about things like whether a home has a pool or a trampoline or pets, we built those into the profile for members on our new free site, You can now plan playdates quickly, easily, and safely online!

    1. Thanks so much, Meryl. Your site’s concept is very cool and no doubt brings a great deal of value to parents. Thanks for sharing it!

    • Jessie Akos on at

    Yes, that DID surprise me and it’s something I should know as a mom of a precious 14mo. old…and we own a hot tub!! Wow, I cannot thank you enough for this post.

    1. You are very welcome, Jessie. While I try not to act very overprotective, inside I live in fear of something happening to our little daughter.

    • Jared T on at

    Don’t forget buckets with water and toilets. Small children can tip into them and not right themselves again and drown as a result. Thanks for the great info!

    1. Hi Jared. You’re absolutely right, and clearly bath tubs are a HUGE risk as well. Thanks so much for dropping by. I shared your most recent post with out 26k Twitter friends. We dad bloggers need to stick together.

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