The American Red Cross, Illinois DCFS, Illinois DNR and Illinois Association of Park Districts Team Up to Promote Water Safety, Prevent Drowning

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The American Red Cross, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Association of Park Districts will team up for a 10:00 a.m. press conference on Wednesday, May 20 at the Springfield Elks Lodge #158, 409 East Lake Shore Drive.

“In this age of constant distraction, it is important for parents and other caregivers to pay attention when children are in or near any body of water, which is why Governor Rauner proclaimed May as Childhood Drowning Prevention Month in Illinois,” said George Sheldon, Acting Director of Illinois DCFS. “The public can help DCFS draw attention to this very preventable issue and together we can save lives.”

In 2014, 24 Illinois children under the age of 18 lost their lives due to accidental drowning: 13 in pools; 4 in ponds; 3 in lakes; 2 in bathtubs; 1 in a river; and 1 in a large bucket. Nine of the children who drowned in pools were under the age of five. Self-closing, self-locking gates, alarms and other types of warning sensors can go a long way in protecting children. Toddlers have also been known to drown in large buckets used in home improvement projects so it is extremely important to empty buckets and turn them over when they are not in use.

“The American Red Cross, in partnership with other community organizations across Illinois, offers a variety of water safety classes and swimming lessons that can save a child’s life,” said Bryan Soady, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Serving South Central Illinois. “We also recommend that caregivers learn CPR and keep rescue equipment, a telephone and emergency numbers nearby.” More water safety tips are available at redcross.org/watersafety.

“Park districts and recreation agencies are often the heart of their communities, a place for gathering and bonding, but they also fill a critical need – education,” said Peter Murphy, President and CEO for the Illinois Association of Park Districts. “Education is the key to combating this important issue, and we are honored to be a part of this team to share the important message about learning to swim and drowning prevention.”