Officers urge water safety as children go on summer break

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 3, 2014)–

Officers with the Department of Natural Resources are reminding parents and young people about the importance of water safety this week.

“The younger citizens of the state, they’re drawn to water and we understand that and we want them to enjoy water, we just want them to do it in a safe way,” said Conservation Officer Jet Quillen.

He said as students get out of school and families plan summer vacations it’s a good idea to review how to behave around open water like lakes and rivers. Just last week a 13-year-old waded too far into the White River and drowned in 8 feet of water

“Prepare for it. Have life jackets, flotation devices, use the buddy system, never go alone, have someone with you. If you’re a younger person make, sure your parents are aware that you’re going by the water,” he said.

Now might be the time for parents to consider getting their children swimming lessons. The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis launched its SPLASH program this week, with free swim lessons for children ages six to 12. Parents need to register their children online.

YMCA instructors will also do classroom presentations at community and neighborhood pools.

Those lessons can save lives even when accidents happen near water not meant for swimming, Quillen said. This spring a man died when he fell into a retention pond at an apartment complex on the west side of Indianapolis.

“Retention ponds are extremely dangerous. Underwater they drop off quickly. By the edge, they may only be a couple feet deep but once you get a little further out from shore they can be as deep as 20 feet,” said Quillen. “They’re getting more and more common, people should be aware that there are dangers around them.”