It’s the time of the year when people love to get in the water, visiting local pools, lakes and reservoirs for recreational water activities. The Indiana Department of Child Services and the Department of Natural Resources are reminding parents and guardians to ensure they keep an eye on children playing in or near bodies of water.
In 2011, 11 Hoosier children drowned, and Mary Beth Bonaventura, director of the IDCS, said lack of supervision is mostly to blame. Children, she said, don’t usually have an awareness of the risks around water, and it’s up to adults to supervise them and ensure their safety.
While swimming and other recreational water activities provide a great opportunity for Indiana children to remain active and healthy throughout the summer, but parents and guardians must stay vigilant and watchful of children participating in water activities. Also, the DNR is encouraging parents to equip their children with proper fitting life-jackets when in the water.
So far this year, the DNR reports 27 open-water drownings with three victims 18 years old or younger. 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.
State officials offer the following tips to help keep children safe near water:
- 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 lifeguards on duty.
- Always swim with a buddy.
- Have children wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life-jacket—particularly for children with poor swimming skills—and have a life-preserver on hand. DNR strongly recommends that all family members wear a life-jacket while boating on Indiana lakes and waterways.
- 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.