As Hoosiers prepare
for trips to the pool, beach, rivers, and lakes, the Indiana Department of
Child Services (DCS) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are
reminding parents and guardians to make water safety a priority this summer.
“When done with
proper supervision in the proper places, swimming can be a safe and healthy
recreational activity for kids,” DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura said.
“But since children generally don’t have an awareness of the risks around
water, it’s up to the adults who care for them to help keep them safe.”
is avoidable with proper supervision and vigilance, Bonaventura said. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that about one in five people
who die from drowning is a child 14 and younger with children 1 to 4 having
the highest drowning rates. The most recent Indiana child fatality data show
that in state fiscal year 2012, eight Hoosier children died from drowning.
DNR reports 28 open
water drownings so far in 2014 with 12 of the victims being 18 or younger.
It’s important for
parents and guardians to watch what their children are doing in and around
the water even when lifeguards are present. “Just learning to swim is not a
successful way to prevent drowning.” DNR Boating Law Administrator Lt.
Kenton Turner said. “The use of a properly fitted life jacket is the only
proven method that is certain to reduce the number of Indiana drownings.”
reminded to practice safe and responsible boating and always to wear a life
jacket and be alert while on the water. “We encourage all of our citizens to
enjoy the rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs that Indiana has to offer,”
DNR Law Enforcement Division Director Danny East said. “But we ask that
everyone consider safety as their top priority and include a U.S. Coast
Guard-approved life jacket as part of their checklist when heading out to
our DNR properties.”
Tips to help keep
children safe around water this summer:
Someone should always be actively watching children when they’re in the
pool. This means don’t play around on your phone or get involved in a
lengthy conversation while watching the kids. Drowning can happen in just a
few minutes. Designate a “water watcher” to keep an eye on swimmers.
* Barriers: A child
should never be able to enter a pool area unaccompanied by an adult.
Barriers include child-proof locks on all doors, a pool fence with
self-latching and self-closing gates, and door and pool alarms. Pool covers
may also be used but make sure it is a professional cover fitted for your
pool. A simple canvas covering can be a drowning hazard and entrap a child
in the water.
* Swimming lessons:
Children ages 4 and older should learn to swim in order to help prevent
drowning. Even kids as young as 2 will benefit from taking a parent and
child water orientation class. Caregivers should learn to swim as well.
Swimming should only be allowed in areas with designated life guards. Ask
that kids always swim with a buddy, too.
* Life jackets:
Children should wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket, particularly
children with poor swimming skills. A life-preserver should also be on hand.
DNR strongly recommends that all family members wear a life jacket while
boating on Indiana lakes and waterways.
* Diving: Teach
children never to dive into oceans, lakes, or rivers because they do not
know what dangerous structures can lurk below the water’s surface.