This Is the State Where the Most People Drown

Swimming, boating, waterskiing and diving are among the most popular pastimes in warm weather. In northern states, that warm weather may only last four or five months. In southern states, it lasts the entire year.

There is ample opportunity for water sports. The National Ocean Services reports the United States has 95,471 miles of coastline and “These measurements included the continental U.S. as well as U.S. territories (Hawaii and Alaska were U.S. territories during this time period).” Additionally, the United States has 250 freshwater lakes with surfaces that cover 17,300 square miles. Beyond that, there are tens of thousands of smaller ones. Some of these lakes are remote, but many of the larger lakes, including the Great Lakes, are easily accessible.

All this water sports activity carries some risks, the worst of which are drownings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are about 4,000 unintentional drownings each year, which is about 11 per day. It provides more detailed statistics: “Drowning death rates vary from state to state. The annual age-adjusted drowning death rate in the United States during 2015-2019 was 1.23 deaths per 100,000 people (including boating-related drowning deaths).”

America’s two newest states have the highest drowning rates per 100,000 people. The figure in Alaska is 4.97, followed by Hawaii at 2.90. Southern states make up most of the balance of high drowning rates. Louisiana has 2.20, Florida 2.01 and Mississippi 1.88.

At the far end of the spectrum, several states have drowning rates of less than 1.00. New York is the lowest on the list at 0.65, followed by New Jersey at 0.67 and Connecticut at 0.68. There is no explanation for the low level in the so-called tri-state area around New York City.

These are the 20 states with the highest drowning levels:

  • Alaska (4.97)
  • Hawaii (2.90)
  • Louisiana (2.20)
  • Florida (2.01)
  • Mississippi (1.88)
  • Wyoming (1.85)
  • Oklahoma (1.82)
  • Arkansas (1.78)
  • Idaho (1.74)
  • Montana (1.66)
  • Oregon (1.64)
  • Maine (1.64)
  • Alabama (1.63)
  • South Carolina (1.56)
  • Kentucky (1.45)
  • Washington (1.44)
  • New Mexico (1.43)
  • Arizona (1.42)
  • West Virginia (1.41)
  • Georgia (1.39)

Click here to see the best place to enjoy the water in each state.

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