Child drowning deaths up 4x last year's numbers

INDIANAPOLIS - On Saturday as Hoosiers celebrated the first official day of summer, Department of Natural Resources officials were warning them to stay alert about the dangers of drowning.

Statewide drowning numbers are on pace to match last year, according to DNR officials, and nearly half of this year's victims have been children.

Members of the Pike Township Dive Team used Saturday to train lifesaving skills at Eagle Creek Reservoir.

They worked to sharpen critical skills needed to respond to emergencies in the water – rescues where every second counts.

At a playground nearby, parents like Jim Phillips kept a close eye on their kids.

"I think a lot of it is just keeping eyes on them, making sure they don't get away from us," Phillips said.

Fellow dad David Smith agreed.

"I just make sure I know right where they are at all times, because my kids are 6, 4 and 2, but they're fast," Smith said. "I don't turn my back."

The DNR reports a dozen of the drowning victims this year have been children – already four times greater than the number of children who drowned during all of last year.

Two of those drownings happened this month in the Big Blue River in Edinburgh.

"A lot of the drownings are preventable," said DNR Officer Jet Quillen. "You need to evaluate the situation and say, 'Am I a strong swimmer? Do I have someone with me?'"

The DNR says a lack of close supervision can increase the risk of drowning. So can an inability to swim. Swimming lessons are recommended for children 4 and older.

Last year, a total of 56 drownings occurred in Indiana, according to DNR officials.

The Centers for Disease Control recommend that adults learn CPR. The CDC says such training could save a person's life in the time it takes paramedics to arrive on scene.

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