INDIANAPOLIS-While Hoosiers are cooling off at municipal pools, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs this summer, the Indiana State Department of Health, Indiana Department of Homeland Security and Indiana Department of Natural Resources remind caregivers to help children stay safe.
"Fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years," says Indiana Department of Homeland Security Chief of Staff Mike Garvey, an Emergency Medical Service professional with 33 years of experience. "It's important to make sure children are always supervised around water to help avoid these tragedies."
Between 2005 and 2007, there were 207 deaths due to drowning in the state, 27 percent of which occurred in natural bodies of water such as lakes and rivers. Sixty-five deaths were children and adolescents under the age of 20. While the majority of drownings in natural bodies of water involve individuals over 15 years of age, 25 of these deaths were children 2 to 4 years of age, and 14 deaths were children 5 to 13 years old.
"It's important to remember that not all drowning incidents result in death," said Dr. Duwve. "Non-fatal drowning incidents can cause brain damage resulting in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning difficulties, and permanent loss of ability to perform basic daily functions."
Drowning is the leading cause of injury and death for young children ages 1 to 4, with most occurring in residential swimming pools. Most young children who drowned in pools had been out of sight of a caregiver for fewer than five minutes. Children under age 1 most often drown in bathtubs, buckets, or toilets. Between 2005 and 2007 there were nine fatal bathtub drownings in Indiana.
- Alcohol use is involved in about 25-50 percent of adolescent deaths associated with water recreation.
- Among those who drowned in boating accidents, 87 percent were not wearing life jackets.
- Drowning is the most common cause of unintentional injury and death for persons with seizure disorders.
"Drowning happens quickly and silently, unlike it is shown in the movies," said Joan Duwve, M.D., Medical Director for the Injury Prevention Program at the Indiana State Department of Health. "The good news is that drowning is almost always preventable."
Parents are urged to teach young children about water safety, including the importance of wearing a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket when around open bodies of water, and to make sure children are appropriately supervised at all times while they are around water.
Safety tips to remember:
· Never leave a child alone near water, even for a few seconds. Supervise young children at all times around bathtubs, swimming pools, and natural bodies of water. Adults watching children near water should avoid distracting activities like playing cards, reading books, or talking on the phone. At family gatherings, adults can take turns as the "designated watcher" whose sole responsibility is to watch children during their shift.
· Fence your pool on all four sides with a barrier. Move lawn chairs, tables and other potential climbing aids away from the fence to help keep children out.
· Drain off any water that accumulates on top of a pool cover.
· Check swimming pools for new anti-entrapment grates on drain suction outlets.
· Keep reaching and throwing aids, such as poles and life preservers on both sides of the pool.
· Children should wear life vests when they are near water, especially near rivers and streams, and when boating.
· Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and get recertified every two years. CPR can help a child stay alive and reduce brain damage.
For more information on summer safety, go to http://www.boat-ed.com/in/handbook/ and www.in.gov/dhs/getprepared.
Ken Severson, Indiana State Department of Health (317) 233-7104, firstname.lastname@example.org
John Erickson or Emily Norcross, Indiana Department of Homeland Security (317) 234-6713, email@example.com
Lt. Mark Farmer, Department of Natural Resources (317) 232-0658, firstname.lastname@example.org
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