06/15/12 Recent drownings have prompted the Indiana Department of Child Services and the Department of Natural Resources to remind parents and guardians to make sure to keep a close eye on children playing in or near water. The reminder comes just days after two Indiana children died due to accidental drowning.
When done with proper supervision in the proper places, swimming can be the safe, healthy recreational activity that has helped kids stay cool during hot summer days for centuries. But DCS Director James Payne says even one child’s death due to accidental drowning is too many.
“Accidental drowning is something that’s highly avoidable with proper supervision and vigilance,” Payne said.
While millions of children and adults swim safely without incident, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that accidental drowning is the second largest cause of death among children ages 14 and younger.
DNR reports that both last year and the year before, eight Indiana children younger than 17 drowned. So far this year, three from that age group have drowned in Indiana.
It’s important for parents and guardians to watch what their children are doing in and around the water even when lifeguards are present.
“Sometimes having lifeguards can provide a false sense of security that causes adults to let down their guard when watching children,” said Lt. Bill Browne of DNR Law Enforcement, which investigates the state’s drownings. “One lifeguard or a few lifeguards can’t watch everyone at the same time.”
With more people in and on the water during summer, that’s when most drownings occur.“With boating, pool parties and other summer water activities, the probability of accidental drowning escalates 89 percent this time of year,” said Maj. Mike Portteus, Indiana’s boating law administrator.
DCS and DNR recommend the following to families with children of all ages so that they can avoid summer fun turning into a devastating tragedy:
- Never leave children alone when near or accessible to water, and teach children to ask permission before going near a body of water.
- Never leave a child’s safety around water in the hands of another child. Water safety requires vigilant, adult supervision.
- Ensure the entire family has been properly taught to swim well via a certified water-safety program. Many city parks departments offer these programs.
- Swim in areas with designated life guards on duty.
- Always swim with a buddy.
- Have children wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest—particularly for children with poor swimming skills—and have a life-preserver on hand. DNR strongly recommends that all family members wear a life vest while boating on Indiana lakes and waterways.
- Watch for children who have had too much sun, who are too tired, too cold, had too much strenuous activity, or are too far from safety.
- Teach children never to dive into oceans, lakes or rivers because they do not know what dangerous structures can lurk under the water’s surface.
Indiana Conservation Officer Jet Quillen cautions parents that lakes and rivers pose additional threats. “Kids wanting to cool off in the heat can slip on rocks covered with algae and fall into the water, leading to a tragic consequence.” Quillen also said unpredictable currents in lakes and rivers make swimming particularly dangerous.
“Sadly, we lose children each year because they don’t understand the dangers associated with water,” said Payne. “It’s up to parents to teach them to have a healthy respect for the water and watch over them to ensure their safety.”
DCS is committed to protecting children who are victims of abuse or neglect. The agency’s primary goal is to safely keep these children at home with their families by offering appropriate support services. If safety continues to be a concern, children are placed with relatives or in foster care. DCS also oversees adoptions from the foster care system and manages the Child Support Bureau. The Kids First Trust Fund, supported by the sale of ‘Kids First’ specialty automobile license plates, subsidizes programs designed to prevent child abuse and neglect. Indiana Child Abuse/Neglect Hotline: 800.800.5556. www.in.gov/dcs