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June 3 News Release

Key agencies join forces to urge adult supervision for children in or near water.

Chicago, IL (June 5, 2003) –The American Red Cross, Prevent Child Abuse Illinois (PCA Illinois), the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS), the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today will host a press conference to kick-off the Get Water Wise…Supervise! campaign. This is a new statewide public awareness campaign to educate the public about the urgent need for adult supervision when children are in or near water. Drowning is the second leading cause of death for children under age five after motor vehicle incidents.

"Summer is a wonderful time of the year,” said Katie Schlichter, community outreach and response director of the American Red Cross Illinois Capital Area Chapter. “Children and parents of Illinois look forward to outdoor activities at the pool, lake and beach, yet accidents can happen if families take a vacation from safety. Supervision is an important step that you can take to prevent drowning."

In 2002, what may have started out as a day of summer fun, ended in the accidental drowning deaths of 18 children in Illinois including 6 in swimming pools, 6 in rivers and lakes, 4 in bathtubs, 1 in a quarry and 1 in a sump pump. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, about 350 children nationwide under the age of five drown each year, and over half of these occurred in the months of June, July, and August.

Even the presence of a lifeguard does not replace individual adult supervision. Adults can be lulled into a false sense of security when a lifeguard is present or when children are wearing safety devices, such as water wings or flotation rings. Children must always be supervised in pools, lakes, ponds, bathtubs, near buckets of water or anywhere water is present. A small child can drown in as little as two inches of water.

The event will be held at 11:00 a.m. at the W Hotel, 644 N. Lake Shore Drive (7th floor).

The participating agencies would especially like to thank the Illinois Child Death Review Team for recommending this water safety campaign. The Child Death Review Team examines why each child under the age of 18 dies in the state of Illinois.

Jill Manuel
Illinois Department of Children and Family Services

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