Toddler Deaths From Falling Into Septic Systems

We might think it as a tragedy created in imaginations to be portrayed on the big screen. But, this catastrophe is not mere movie mockery. Data bears out the reality of toddler deaths from septic systems. One google search reveals story after story of families suffering deep loss and grief at the expense of this property system.


In April of 2015, a two-year-old boy died after falling into a septic tank in Skagit County, Washington. A neighbor reported that, “The mom turned her back and then she didn’t see her kid, so she was asking everyone around the block to look for her kid.” Horror ensued.

Other stories include reports of a one-year-old Florida boy who died in August 2015 after falling into a septic tank outside of an Ocala apartment complex. In February 2014, a Fruitland Park, Florida, autopsy revealed drowning as the cause of death for a two-year-old after she fell into a tank. It is tragic and heart-wrenching.

Perhaps you are tempted to blame parents for lack of attention to their children. But, case after case refutes this assumption. In June of 2014, a boy died after plunging into an uncovered septic system in Arizona. Someone saw him fall and ran to his aid immediately, but the child drowned.

A four-year-old girl playing ball with a family member fell into a septic tank in July 2014. The lid flipped as she ran over it and then flipped back like a trap door. If witnesses were not present, there would be no trace of her disappearance. Parental diligence does not provide adequate prevention or security in these tragic incidents.


These unfortunate cases identify the top safety hazards identified in septic tank injuries and fatalities which include:

  • Unsafe septic tank covers
  • Septic tank covers moved and left unattended for any amount of time
  • Improperly abandoned septic tanks
  • Improper septic tank service procedures

In the Skagit County case, the young boy was discovered when a police officer came across a septic lid that appeared askew. Other cases have reported that the cover was knocked off by trucks that drove over it. In a March 2012 Lakewood, New Jersey, case, a toddler girl drowned in a septic tank in her backyard. According to reports, “Search teams found a 3-foot-wide hole in the yard that led to a septic tank, and the Public Works Department was called to pump water from the tank.” The evidence suggested a collapsed or unsafe septic tank cover.

Septic tank lids removed intentionally, those damaged due to traffic (trucks, lawnmowers, etc.), and others that become weak with natural decay all spell potential tragedy. Also, newer materials intended to allow for easier access to tanks wear more easily and are lighter to move. All are posing potential threats for curious toddlers.

Hazards do not exist only in modern tanks, but in remnants of abandoned ones as well. In June of 2014, a three-year-old girl fell into a 15-foot-deep trench – the remains of an old septic tank. Improperly handled abandoned systems lie quietly waiting for something to happen.

While the stories cry of heartbreak and the details are gruesome, prevention is possible. Property owners can heed the warnings of these sad cases to impact the future. To prevent such accidents, it is essential to be diligent and ensure the following:


While a septic tank requires pumping every two to three years, a yearly inspection by a professional can spot signs of wear and issues that may arise.


Property owners should also check for wear causing broken or weakened septic lids.


Weekly visuals of the tank cover identify issues of full or partially open tanks.


If a septic system is abandoned, proper care should be taken to fill in the tank.

Responsibility for maintenance of the septic system rests with the property owner. Being visually diligent, scheduling inspections and addressing any concerns early on increases safety. Taking the above steps goes a long way in preventing injury and even the fatalities of curious or just plain active toddlers.

Awareness of hazards around septic systems is vital. Educating homeowners and other property owners as to the reality of these safety risks proves beneficial. Proper maintenance and servicing of tanks, especially covers, proves essential to safety. Pass it on.