By Desiree Williams
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is the fifth-leading cause of unintentional injury death in the U.S. Every day, 10 people die from unintentional drowning.
“Prevention is always the best prescription, but barring that, obviously learning to swim has shown to be a huge reduction in the risk of drowning. That goes for adults and children,” said Andrew Joseph, general manager of the Fishers and Carmel Goldfish Swim School locations.
Goldfish Swim School is part of the Indiana Drowning Prevention Coalition, a safety alliance that launched last summer. Other members include the Indianapolis Police Dept., Indianapolis Fire Dept., Riley Children’s at Indiana University Health, National Drowning Prevention Alliance, USA Swimming Foundation, Indiana Parent Teachers Association and Indy Parks and Recreation.
To prevent residential drowning, Joseph said families should cover pools or lock gates and have a serious conversation about water safety with children. Elsewhere, the best rule of thumb is to stay off the ice on lakes, streams and retention ponds, especially as the weather goes through the freeze/thaw cycle, he said.
Tim Griffin, Carmel Fire Dept. public information officer, said CFD sees differences in the frequency of water incidents as the weather changes because the ice is so thin. He said the majority of the department’s responses relate to a person going into the water after their pet, which he discourages.
“First and foremost is, don’t go onto the ponds,” Griffin said. “We want to keep people off those ponds. We want to keep them safe. The other is, if you see somebody, don’t go in. Call 911. Call us and let us come out.”
In May, Goldfish Swim School will host a Community Water Safety Day to highlight National Water Safety Month. The event will include safety tips and information about life jackets, locks or alarms on pools and swim lessons. Joseph said the swim school partners with like-minded organizations, such as police and fire departments, for the event.
The Indiana Drowning Prevention Coalition offers six tips for water safety:
1. Put your cellphone away
2. Never leave your child unattended
3. Designate a water watcher
4. Be aware of water everywhere
5. Learn CPR
6. Start swim lessons early