SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) With summer heating up and
families heading to lakes and rivers to cool off, Indiana officials are
warning parents to keep a close watch on children, saying water safety
requires vigilant, adult supervision.
A report released Tuesday said 11 children died from drowning in Indiana
open waters in fiscal 2011, the last year for which complete statistics
"In nearly all of those cases, there was some lack of supervision," said
Mary Beth Bonaventura, director of the Indiana Department of Child
Services. "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
Three children have been among Indiana's 27 drowning deaths so far this
year, the state Department of Natural Resources reports. The DNR counts
drowning deaths in Indiana open waters, but does not include deaths in
pools, DNR Division of Law Enforcement Lt. Bill Browne said.
Just last week a 5-year-old boy from northeastern Indiana was found
unresponsive in Bixler Lake, 25 miles north of Fort Wayne. Conservation
officers said family members noticed Dominic Slone-Lehman of Cromwell
missing and he was spotted floating in about 5 feet of water. A
3-year-old boy was pulled from underwater in the same lake on Saturday
and was successfully revived.
Browne said all drowning deaths involving children are heartbreaking.
"I've got a lot of memories that aren't pleasant," said Browne, who has
worked for the DNR for 26 years.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drowning is
the leading cause of injury death for young children ages 1 to 4.
Browne said being a good swimmer isn't enough to guard against drowning.
"Understand that some of the best swimmers in the world get tired. If
they're in water over their heads the only fool-proof plan is
lifejackets," Browne said. "Many times when we're at drowning scenes
people will tell us, 'I don't know what happened. They were a good
State officials also say parents can't count on lifeguards to keep their
children safe. The DNR recommends children, especially those with poor
skimming skills, wear life jackets, and have a life-preserver on hand.
Other recommendations by state officials:
Teach children to ask permission before going near a body of water.
Swim in areas with lifeguards on duty.
Always swim with a buddy.
Teach children never to dive into oceans, lakes or rivers because they
do not know what structures are under the water's surface.
DNR strongly recommends that all family members wear a life-jacket
while boating on Indiana lakes and waterways.