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Safe Kids Worldwide Applauds Inaugural U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan

June 29, 2023

Washington, DC – Safe Kids Worldwide applauds the development of the U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan (USNWSAP), a comprehensive, first-of-its-kind roadmap released today to help put an end to one of the leading causes of preventable deaths for children.

The report is the culmination of a four-year-long effort by drowning prevention experts and organizations around the country, including Safe Kids, to provide a framework for a coordinated approach to address drowning.

As the chair of the USNWSAP Steering Committee, Safe Kids Chief Research and Network Officer Morag MacKay

played a leading role in the development of the report.

The USNWSAP is of particular interest to Safe Kids. Drowning is the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause of unintentional injury death among children ages 5-14.

“The Plan envisions a United States where everyone is safe in, on, and around water,” said MacKay. “To get there, the plan calls for targeted collaboration and coordination of efforts, and equitable implementation of what we know works at the state, county, and community levels.” 

To support that action the USNWSAP provides 99 evidence-informed action recommendations addressing policy and legislative change, organizational change, education and training, and public awareness and        

introduces a flexible 12-step reflection to action process. The process encourages jurisdictions to start planning by identifying existing partners, water hazards, and prevention efforts and to use that to develop data- and evidence-informed context-specific action plans. Safe Kids will be working to support our coalition network in participating in the development of those plans.

“At Safe Kids, our goal is to bring awareness to families and communities and to work with our local partners to ensure they have the tools and resources they need to prevent these tragedies, particularly for communities that have been historically marginalized and underserved,” said Safe Kids President Torine Creppy.

Drowning death rates for Black/African Americans is 1.5 times higher than rates for White people, with the highest disparities among Black/African American children ages 5-9 and 10-14. Drowning in rural settings is 1.5 times higher than in urban areas. And children with autism spectrum disorder are 160 times more likely to experience fatal and nonfatal drowning than their neurotypical peers.

“The report underscores the importance of acknowledging disparities in drowning rates and ensuring preventive actions address the social factors that have contributed to them, and aligns with our mission here at Safe Kids to ensure all children grow up safe from unintentional injury,” Creppy said.

The USNWSAP also calls for the development of national minimum standards, advocacy tool kits with model laws, and national-level guidance related to improving drowning data. Undertaking the development of these standards, tools, and resources and encouraging their use will help address existing inequities between and within states, counties, and communities. Safe Kids looks forward to providing ongoing leadership to support the development of these additional tools over the coming years.    

The USNWSAP covers a 10-year period from 2023 to 2032 and focuses on six key areas where evidence supports effective action: Barriers, Entrapment, and Electrical Safety; Data and Public Health Surveillance; Life Jackets, Personal Flotation Devices, and Other Flotation; Rescue and CPR; Lifeguards and Supervision; and Water Safety, Water Competency, and Swimming Lessons. These areas encompass a range of prevention strategies to reduce drowning incidents and improve water safety nationwide.


For more information about the U.S. National Water Safety Action Plan and to access the complete list of action recommendations, please visit

To get water safety tips, visit



Safe Kids Worldwide is a nonprofit organization working to protect kids from preventable injuries, the number one cause of death for children in the United States. Safe Kids works with an extensive network of more than 400 coalitions in the U.S. and with partners in more than 30 countries to reduce traffic injuries, drownings, falls, burns, poisonings, and more. Safe Kids also engages in advocacy efforts to make kids safer at the federal, state, and local levels. Since 1988, Safe Kids has helped reduce the U.S. childhood death rate from unintentional injury by nearly 60 percent. Learn more at

About the US National Water Safety Action Plan

The process for creating the USNWSAP was initiated and facilitated by Water Safety USA and was led by a Steering Committee of experts in water safety and drowning prevention. The strength of the USNWSAP is the accumulated knowledge and expertise of those who participated in its development. For a full list of all contributors, visit      

Media Contacts

Gary Karton, [email protected], 202-662-0630