For immediate release: Jun 21, 2011
Posted by: [DCS]
Contact: Ann Houseworth, Communications Director
Drownings: Too Many Hoosier Children Perish Needlessly-DCS Says 7 Kids Died During 15-Day Period Beginning Memorial Day Weekend
Indianapolis-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 today 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 event took place during children's swimming lessons at Indianapolis' Sahm Park Aquatic Center.
"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 lifejackets 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."
During the news conference today, certified swimming instructors from the Indianapolis Dept. of Parks and Recreation helped children as young as 3 years old start discovering water. Older children learned the principals of swimming-including proper stroke development-and water safety skills. Numerous parents attended the sessions, too. The Dept. of Child Services also distributed a handy one-page Drowning Fact Sheet. The fact sheet includes numerous swimming pool, open water and boating safety tips.
"At Indy Parks, our program is based on the fundamentals of learning to swim while having fun. The proper development of water skills and safety can give families the tools they need to prevent tragic accidents," said Senior Park Manager Michelle Snyder. "And remember-it's never too late to learn."
According to the State Health Department, 70 Hoosier adults and children drowned in 2007, the most recent year statistics are available.
"The number of recent drownings in our State is alarming and certainly something that has caught our attention at the State Health Department," said State Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin, M.D. "I urge every Hoosier to practice water safety when entering pools, lakes or any body of water to help prevent the spread of disease and unnecessary and preventable tragedies."
Multiple strategies are needed to prevent drowning. Far too many Hoosier kids are dying because they don't understand the dangers sometimes associated with water. Parents are reminded that when it comes to water safety, nothing beats close adult supervision-even if there are gates and fences around home pools and life jackets. And parents should be reminded about being aware of the "too's," too. Too tired, too much sun, too cold, too far from safety, too much strenuous activity, too much alcohol and/or drug use.
As an additional effort to help raise public awareness about water safety, DCS recently sent a dramatic 30-second public service announcement entitled "In the Pool" to each TV station in Indiana.
For more information about swimming lessons at an Indianapolis municipal pool, call 317.327.7275 or check out http://www.indy.gov/eGov/City/DPR/Pages/IndyParksHome.aspx.
About Indiana's Department of Child Services: Indiana's Department of Child Services (DCS) is committed to protecting children who are victims of abuse or neglect. DCS case managers' primary focus is on keeping children safely at home with their family. However, sometimes it's necessary to place kids in temporary foster care to ensure their safety. An important agency initiative is the Kids First Trust Fund and DCS also administers special-needs adoptions and the child support bureau. In collaboration with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, a Books for Youth program is targeting a Super Goal for the Super Game: collect 750,000 books for foster kids by Feb. 2012. Indiana's Hotline to report child abuse or neglect: 800.800.5556. http://www.in.gov/dcs/index.htm
About Aquatics at Indianapolis Dept. of Parks & Recreation: For the past 17 years Indy Parks has been an award winning aquatic facility, with more than 300 supervisors and guards maintaining safety standards at each location. Each guard participates in an extensive training program through the Starfish Aquatics Institute (SAI) to ensure they are ready for the water which includes preventative lifeguarding instruction, first aid, water rescue skills, individual and team emergency scenarios, adult, child and infant CPR for professional rescuers and training for Automated External Defibrillators (AED).
For more information:
Ann Houseworth, Communications Director
Rich Allen, hit me't. Communications Director
Indianapolis Dept. of Parks & Recreation
Public Information Officer