06/22/11 Seven innocent Hoosier children drowned between May 30 and June 13, a pace of about one death every other day. Over the last three years, 42 children have died in a family or municipal swimming pool or a reservoir, river, creek or lake in Indiana. Because so many of our children are dying needlessly, three Indiana State Government agencies, the Dept. of Child Services (DCS), the Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR), the Indiana State Dept. of Health, as well as the Indianapolis Parks and Recreation Dept., joined forces Tuesday during a news conference to bring attention to these senseless deaths. The entities came together to focus on the guidelines parents should follow to ensure the safety of their children in and around water.
“The importance of water safety cannot be stressed enough,” said James W. Payne, DCS Director. Parents must be aware of their children at all times. Children can be out of sight for just a few seconds, and those few seconds can mean the difference between life and death.” Payne also stressed the need for parents to avoid relying on popular pool and water toys, including “noodles” and inflatable items like rafts and other floatation devices. “No pool toy can replace the diligent watch of a parent or caregiver.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 to 14 years old. On average, three children die every day as a result of drowning. And now that summer is here in Indiana, the threat of drowning will increase 89 percent compared to the rest of the year. Ninety percent of Indiana’s families with young children will be in the water at some point this summer and almost half plan to swim in a place with no lifeguard.
While many families swim in backyard pools and lots of community pools exist throughout the State, swimming in lakes and rivers is also popular. Swimming in a lake or river, however, with unpredictable currents can be like trying to walk down an escalator that’s going up. You have to work extremely hard to compensate for the upward movement of the escalator.
Boating on a reservoir, river or lake is great family fun but can be dangerous for children, especially if life jackets are not worn properly. Reservoirs or natural bodies of water pose an additional threat as well. Kids wanting to cool off may step on rocks made slippery by algae that grows thick in the summer. An accidental slip and fall into the water can have tragic consequences, particularly with no trained lifeguard available.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re swimming, wading or boating in an Indiana reservoir, lake, river or swimming pool, a properly worn U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket can save your life,” said Bo Spainhour, Indiana Conservation Officer. “Parents, for your child’s sake, please be steadfast about water safety even in backyard pools or lifeguarded areas.”