Drowning Data

One child drowns every 45 seconds in Asia, during daylight hours with many swimming unsupervised. Yet this staggering statistic is rarely present in national health surveys.  Drowning, like other injury deaths, is hidden because of the very speed at which it kills — there is no time for hospitalisation

Child drowning — a daily occurrence

The information here only covers five countries where TASC surveys have been the most extensive: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Thailand, Viet Nam and two areas in China, the capital Beijing and the province of Jiangxi.  The true burden of child drowning in Asia is much higher.

In the areas surveyed, 104 children die from drowning every day, or one child dies every 14 minutes.

Drowning Statistics by Country China: Beijing 1 child dies from drowning every 2 days
China: Jiangxi Province 13 children die from drowning every day
Viet Nam 32 children die from drowning every day
Cambodia 6 children die from drowning every day
Thailand 7 children die from drowning every day
Bangladesh 46 children die from drowning every day

Estimated number of child drowning deaths (per year)

Estimated number of child non-fatal drownings (per year)

Percentage of drowned children who were alone or with peers (%)

Percentage of drowned children over 4 years old who could swim (%)

Bangladesh

16,570

66,650

67%

14%

Cambodia

2,094

2,877

50%

5%

China – Beijing

172

172

-

-

China – Jiangxi

4,470

3415

87%

5%

Thailand

2,645

3,000

54%

11%

Viet Nam

11,665

11,795

68%*

6%*

Total

37,616

87,917

65%

9%

* based on data collected from the province of DaNang, Vietnam as this data was not collected for the entire country

Child Drowning Facts

Drowning graph

Estimated Number of fatal child drownings each year in Asia

Toddlers, those aged 1-4, make up nearly one half of all child drownings in Asia.  Toddlers are more likely to wander off while their mothers are busy with household chores. Mothers may not be used to their children being able to walk, or think others are watching them.  Another key risk factor is that toddlers can drown in a bucket or any other small amount of unattended water.

For children older than five, those who can swim rarely drown.  However, many can’t swim and young school aged children, those aged 5-9, account for more than one out of three child drownings in Asia.  In Bangladesh, drowning was the single leading cause of death for children this age — and 86 per cent of children older than 4 who drowned couldn’t swim. Swimming becomes more critical for children this age, who are more adventurous.  Barriers or supervision alone won’t stop them exploring water.

Drownings drop off by more than 50 per cent for children aged 10 –14, with an estimated 4,500 drownings per year, and again for late adolescents, 15-17, with 300 drownings. Children this age are more likely to be able to swim, or to be swimming with children who can.

Almost 90% of the 1-4 year old age group drowned within 100 metres of their home and 47% drowned within 10 metres of their home.

There was a significant predominance of drownings and near drownings in rural areas in Asia. This is not surprising considering the predominance of naturally occurring bodies of water, agricultural related activities and the use of water bodies for household related chores. Certainly in rural areas, exposure of children to water bodies is increased in comparison to those in urban areas.

Across the countries examined males are of a much higher risk of drowning than females.

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Preventing child drowning in Asia through teaching survival swimming skills

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