|The Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal and Illinois Department of Children and Family Services remind caregivers to supervise children during water activities|
|By Member Ed St. Louis|
|July 23, 2020|
SPRINGFIELD – As temperatures continue to rise, many Illinoisans are looking for ways to cool off. While many pools and beaches are closed this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, home pools, either permeant or pop-up, are still in use. If families plan to visit a beach that is open or invite a few friends over to swim, it’s critical that parents stay vigilant and actively supervise all children when they are in or near water to prevent the tragedy of a child drowning.
In 2019, 22 Illinois children under the age of 18 lost their lives due to accidental drowning: 10 in pools; five in bathtubs; one in a bucket; three in ponds; and three in lakes. Six of the children who drowned in pools were age five and younger. Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death for children ages one to four and second leading cause of unintentional death for children ages five to 15 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Children are quick and curious – and naturally drawn to water,” said Illinois DCFS Acting Director Marc D. Smith. “A child can drown in seconds, in silence, and in as little as one inch of water. Never leave children alone – even for a minute to answer a text or the doorbell. Turning your back for a moment can change your life forever. “
According to the American Red Cross, 69% of young children who are found drowned or submerged in swimming pools were not expected to be in or near the pool. On average, 379 fatal child drownings occurred per year between 2015 and 2017. Children younger than five years old accounted for 75% of these drownings, 56% of which were attributed to a lapse in adult supervision. Of the reported fatal drowning incidents, 71% occurred in residential locations, such as a child’s home, a family or friend’s house or a neighbor’s residence according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic many people have chosen to install pools or purchase a pop-up pool for their yards this summer. Installing a pool requires a need for parents to keep a closer eye on their children. It is also essential to take the proper steps to keep the pool secured and restrict access to prevent injuries and drownings from occurring,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal Matt Perez.
• Never leave a young child alone in a bathtub or rely on a bathtub seat for safety.
• Five-gallon buckets commonly used for household home-improvement projects pose a threat to babies and toddlers who may topple into them and be unable to get out.
• Be aware of access to water hazards in your yard and neighborhood. If a child goes missing, check these areas first.
About the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Founded in 1964, DCFS is responsible for protecting children from abuse or neglect by responding to calls received on the Child Abuse Hotline, 1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873). With the goal of keeping children safe, DCFS strengthens and supports families with a wide range of services. When keeping a child safe means removing them from the home, DCFS makes every effort to reunite them with their family. When the best interest of the child makes this impossible, DCFS is committed to pursuing adoption by loving families to provide children with a safe and permanent home. DCFS is also responsible for licensing and monitoring of all Illinois child welfare agencies.