Unintentional Drowning Deaths, Arizona, 1986-1996
This report was prepared by Christopher K. Mrela, Ph.D., Assistant Registrar of Vital Statistics
This section presents some illustrative findings contained in the figures and tables which comprise the report. It is not intended to be an exhaustive analysis of the tabulated data.
Prior to 1989, drowning was the third leading cause of unintentional injury death both nationwide and in Arizona, surpassed only by motor vehicle and fall-related deaths. Beginning in 1989, poisoning by drugs/medicaments displaced drowning as the third leading cause of unintentional injury death in Arizona.
- The highest age-specific drowning rate is for children under five years of age. In each year from 1970 to 1994, Arizona preschoolers have been at greater annual risk for drowning compared to their national peers (Table 1).
- Between 1986 and 1996 (Figure 1), the smallest excess was 52.6 percent in 1990, and the largest was 200 percent in 1986 (or, the 1986 rate of drowning deaths for Arizona children 1-4 years old was 3 times higher than the national rate).
- The number of drowning deaths per 100,000 Arizona children 1-4 years dropped 14 percent from 9.9/100,000 in 1995 to 8.5/100,000 in 1996 ( Table 1).
- The 1996 drowning rate among preschoolers was 3.9 times higher than the rate for persons of all ages (Figure 3).
- Motor vehicle-related injuries displaced drowning as the leading cause of unintentional injury death among Arizona preschoolers(Figure 2). Drowning was the second leading cause of unintentional injury death among preschoolers (one to four year old children) in 9 of the 11 years from 1986 to 1996.
- From 1986 to 1989, an estimated average of 24 children 0-4 years old drowned each year in swimming pools in ArizonaTable 3. In the five years from 1990 to 1994, the average annual number of 14 swimming pool drownings was 42 percent lower than during the previous period. In both 1995 and 1996, the home swimming pool was estimated to be the site of 20 drowning fatalities to children 0-4 years old (Table 3))
- Among children under 5 years of age, only 3 year olds experienced a noticeable decrease from 1986 to 1996 in their risk for drowning death (Figure 4, Table 4).
- During 1986-1996, drownings constituted about 30 percent of all unintentional injury deaths (299 out of 987) among Arizona's infants and preschool children.
- The drowning mortality rate for Hispanic children under 5 years of age was 57 percent lower in 1996 than the rate among non-Hispanic whites and at least 39 percent lower than the rates among Blacks and American Indians (Figure 5, Table 7).
- The rate of death from drowning for all Arizona residents (Figure 3, Table 8) dropped 15 percent from 2.6/100,000 in 1995 to 2.2/100,000 in 1996, the latter being the 3rd lowest rate of the 1970-1996 period.
- The 1996 male death rate for drowning (3.1/100,000) was 2.4 times higher than the death rate for females (1.3/100,000, Figure 6,
Table 13). Seven out of every ten (71.1 percent) drowning fatalities in 1996 were males.
- Differences in crude drowning rates between ethnic groups in Arizona in 1996 were relativerly small and ranged from 2.1/100,000 for non-Hispanic white to 2.4/100,000 for Hispanics, 2.6/100,000 for Blacks and 2.7/100,000 for American Indians. (Figure 7, Table 15).
- Thirty-three percent, or 363 out of 1,074 Arizonans who drowned between 1986 and 1996 did so in a swimming pool (Figure 8, Table 19).
- The risk of drowning varied by area. The 1996 rate of drowning for persons of all ages in La Paz, Navajo, Pinal and Graham counties exceeded the average annual statewide rate of 2.2/100,000 by at least 45 percent. In contrast, there were no drowning deaths in 1996 in Cochise, Greenlee and Santa Cruz counties (Figure 9).
- One of the health objectives targeted in the Arizona 2000 was that the death rate for drowning should be reduced to 1.3/100,000. The 1996 drowning rate for Arizona residents of all ages exceeded the target rate by 69 percent.
Public Health Services
Office of Health Planning, Evaluation and Statistics
Arizona Center for Health Statistics
Phone: 602/542-7333; FAX: 602/542-1244