Child Accidental Drownings 2005

A picture of a child fishing by the side of a lake.

Also available to download: Child Drownings 2005 (PDF 170kb)

This fact sheet draws together statistics relating to child water-related fatalities in the UK for 2005 in the form of tables and graphs, taken from RoSPA drowning statistics.


435 people accidentally drowned in the UK in 2005. 234 of these occurred in inland waters. The majority of victims fell into water and were unable to help themselves. 31 people were swimming and 24 intentionally got into the water for other reasons, including activities such as rescuing others, jumping, diving, swimming, paddle or play.

Of these 435 accidental drownings, 39 were children (ages 0-14).


Child accidental drowning by activity

Activity Percentage
Non Intentional Immersion 40%
Swim 26%
Intentional Immersion 13%
In Vehicle 13%
Sailing 5%
Rowing 3%

Almost 40% of children that drowned were in the water swimming or playing; another 40% fell in or were swept away. These children were either unaware of the risk of being in or near the water, or did not have the skills to save themselves.

Gender split

Gender Fatalities Percentage
Male 27 69%
Female 12 31%
Total 39 100%


A third of child accidental drowning fatalities occur in or near the home, in garden ponds or other areas of gathered water in the back garden, and in the bath. These are predominantly children aged between 0-6. In a typical scenario the young child escapes supervision or the adult leaves them on their own just for a moment. Young children must be constantly supervised, and adults should make themselves aware of the risks of the water, taking steps to reduce or eliminate them.

Child accidental drowning by location

Location Percentage
Inland 38%
Residential 33%
Coastal 18%
Pool 8%
Sea 3%

Children aged 6-14 are more likely to drown away from home, at rivers and beaches – these locations account for more than half of child drowning. It is necessary that older children, who will not be supervised, are fully aware of the water safety message, and have good water survival skills.

Child accidental drownings: Residential locations

Residential Location Fatalities Percentage of all child accidental drowning
Bath 6 15%
Pond/Tank 5 13%
Swimming Pool 2 5%
Total 13 33%

Location by age

Age Canal Home* Lake Pool (non-residential) River Sea Total
0 2 2
1 5 5
2 3 1 4
3 1 2 3
4 1 1
5 1 1 2
6 1 1
7 2 1 3
8 1 1 2
9 1 1 2
10 1 1
11 1 1
12 1 1 1 1 4
13 1 1 1 3
14 4 1 5
Total 2 13 2 3 12 8 39

*Home includes home swimming or paddling pool

Points to note:

  • 30% of these fatalities are non-intentional, where the victim fell into water.
  • Almost 70% are male fatalities.
  • There is almost an even split between fatalities occurring at home as at a river.
  • Residential fatalities are predominantly children aged between 0-2, while older children mainly drown in rivers or the sea.
  • 15% of child drowning fatalities occur while children are bathing – often due to the caregiver leaving the child unsupervised for only a short moment. It also shows the lack of safety provided by bath seat, and a possible misconception about this.
  • 39 of 40 child water-related fatalities are accidental drowning. The remaining fatality was a homicide.

Further resources:

Drowning Statistics
Water Safety for Children and Young People
Water Education Resources

Date created: February 2008

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