Safety agency calls for increased vigilance during summer activities as new report highlights higher drowning risks for children, according to a newly released report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The annual drowning and submersion report, focused on deaths and injuries for children under age 15, found that fatal drownings for children increased 12 percent in 2021, compared to 2020.

Drowning is the leading cause of death among children ages 1 to 4 years old, with a disproportionately higher risk for swimming-aged children in Black communities, the CPSC found.

CPSC urges families with young children and those in historically excluded communities to prioritize water safety, as they spend more time in and around pools.

The report addresses nonfatal drownings for the period 2021 through 2023 and fatal drownings for the period 2019 through 2021, reflecting a lag in the reporting of fatal drowning statistics.

Between 2019 and 2021, the report found there was an average of 358 pool- or spa-related fatal drownings reported per year and 75 percent of those victims were younger than 5 years of age.

The number of fatal child drownings in 2021 was 380, a 12 percent increase from the 339 fatal drownings reported in the previous year, the CPSC reported.

Between 2021 and 2023, data showed there was an average of 6,500 estimated pool- or spa-related, hospital emergency department (ED)-treated, nonfatal drowning injuries each year.

In 2023, a startling 77 percent of all estimated pool- or spa-related, ED-treated, nonfatal drowning injuries involved children younger than 5 years of age.

Between 2019 and 2021, the data showed there was an average of 269 pool- or spa-related fatal drownings for children under 5, roughly 75 percent of the total average number of fatal drownings for all children under 15.

“Children can drown quickly and silently and the increase in drownings for this age group is a sobering reminder of how prevalent these tragedies are,” said CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric. “Parents and caregivers should never let their guard down around water, that means installing layers of protection, like fencing, alarms, pool covers, and self-latching features to keep unsupervised kids from accessing the water.”

Where location was known, 81 percent of fatal drownings involving children under age 15 occurred in a residential setting, including at the victim’s home, or at the home of a family member, friend or neighbor.

The continuing trend of racial disparities in drowning fatalities was also noted in the latest report.

Out of the 71 percent of drowning fatalities involving children under age 15 whose race was specified, African American children made up 23 percent of all drownings, higher than 15 percent of the population for that age, the data showed.

For drowning fatalities among children aged 5 to 14, 45 percent of drowning deaths involved African Americans where race was identified.

The CPSC said the numbers highlight the importance of reaching historically excluded communities with water safety information and support.