Riley Hospital, IndyParks partner to help reduce the risks of drownings this summer

Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s quick, it’s silent, and it can happen to children at any age. Area hospitals are urging parents to keep a watchful eye on their kids this summer to prevent fatal drownings.

Emergency room physicians with Community Health Network said they are expecting to see an increase in drownings and drowning-related injuries this summer.

“Already a little we’re seeing an increase in that, but as the summer goes on and the weather warms up, I think we’ll be seeing more incidents,” said Dr. Matthew Connelly, an emergency medicine physician with Community Health. “And the main place that this is happening is in residential or neighborhood pools.”

Dr. Connelly said the hospital has seen “an explosion” of drowning-related incidents as people are not taking vacations and instead investing in at-home pools during the pandemic.

“Drowning itself can happen in a kiddie pool, above ground pool, a bucket of water – I mean it can really happen in as little as a few inches of water,” warned Dr. Connelly.

As coronavirus cases subside and businesses re-open to pre-pandemic capacities, doctors at Riley Children’s Hospital are equally worried about the risk at community pools. 

“Even if there’s a lifeguard on duty, or your child knows how to swim, or if they have a life jacket — it’s still important to have that close supervision,” said Crystal O’Donnell, Injury Prevention Coordinator at Riley Children’s Hospital.

That is why doctors at Riley Children’s Hospital have partnered with Indy Parks to put new concrete decals in seven of the districts eight community pools.

“We’re hoping that these decals are just one more reminder to everyone, not just parents, but to everyone to keep their eyes on the water when you’re around a community pool and just look out for each other,” said Courtney Rogers, a public information officer for IndyParks.

Rogers said having reminders for parents where it matters most is critical when it only takes seconds for a child to slip underwater.

“And sometimes you don’t always hear them. You know, I think that people have this idea in their head that when someone’s drowning, they’re splashing all around and making noise. That doesn’t always happen. Especially with smaller kids,” said Rogers.

Dr. Matthew Connelly said parents should take preventative measures one step further and get CPR certified.

“I would encourage everyone who has loved ones, friends, family coming over to their pool to get CPR certified. It’s a very easy, very inexpensive class,” said Dr. Connelly. “Having the ability and those skills to respond and get that heart going again and get oxygen to the brain, that is what’s going to save lives and really minimize some of these long-term consequences. You could actually – I mean very very literally – save someone’s life knowing that skill.”

Other tips from Dr. Connelly and Riley Children’s Hospital include:

  • enroll children in swim lessons as young as 12 months old
  • keep small children within arms-length when in the pool
  • install a fence or cover for your at-home pool 
  • take “shifts” with other adults to keep eyes on children in the water
  • do not use pool noodles or arm floats, opt for life jackets instead

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