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Water Safety Skills can Prevent a Quick, Silent Killer

PHOTO: Swimming is synonymous with summer fun and, with pools opening up in Indiana this week, health officials say itís important to understand basic swimming safety. Photo credit: Emily Beeson/morguefile.
PHOTO: Swimming is synonymous with summer fun and, with pools opening up in Indiana this week, health officials say itís important to understand basic swimming safety. Photo credit: Emily Beeson/morguefile.
May 18, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Summer is almost here and while some Hoosiers are ready to dive into pools, ponds and lakes to stay cool, health experts are reminding residents about the dangers of drowning.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, there were more than 300 drowning deaths in the state between 2010 and 2013. Injury prevention epidemiologist Jessica Skiba says while preventable, drowning is quick and silent.

"Although it may be preceded by distress, which is visible, someone who is drowning cannot shout for help because they are not able to obtain air, and this is especially true for children," says Skiba. "So, parents should not leave a children unattended in a pool or a spa."

She says the same holds true for the bathtubs, where children can drown in just inches of water. To keep them from venturing into backyard pools, she recommends installing a four-foot fence with a self-closing gate. At public pools and beaches, Skiba says it's important to follow safety rules and keep an eye on children even if there are lifeguards on duty.

When swimming in natural bodies of water, Skiba says U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal floatation devices should be used - and it's critical that the device fits properly and is comfortable, or it might not do its job.

"These devices can help keep a person floating, but they might not keep a struggling child face up," she says. "Also, with the distribution of the body weight of a child, they might also flip over onto their front and then could drown while wearing a safety device."

She advises adults to learn basic lifesaving and swimming skills. Swim lessons can begin at a young age, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can reduce the risk of drowning among children ages one to four.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN