Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

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July 18, 2014

Parents should make water safety a priority

As Hoosiers gear up for trips to the pool, beach, rivers and lakes, Indiana Department of Child Services and Indiana Department of Natural Resources officials remind parents and guardians to make water safety a priority this summer. Families are encouraged to make sure that both adults and children have the knowledge, skills and equipment they need to be safe in and around water, according to a Nixle message.

“When done with proper supervision in the proper places, swimming can be a safe and healthy recreational activity for kids,” says Mary Beth Bonaventura, IDCS director. “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.”

Accidental drowning is avoidable with proper supervision and vigilance, she notes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that about one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger, with children 1 to 4 having the highest drowning rates. The most recent Indiana child fatality data shows that in state fiscal year 2012, eight Hoosier children died from drowning.

IDNR officials report 28 open water drownings so far in 2014, with 12 of the victims being 18-years-old 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.” points out Lt. Kenton Turner, IDNR’s boating law administrator “The use of a properly fitted life jacket is the only proven method that is certain to reduce the number of Indiana drownings.”

Boaters are reminded to practice safe and responsible boating, always 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. 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,” announces Danny East, IDNR Law Enforcement Division director.

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