IMPD, IFD join coalition to prevent drowning

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As summer begins, thousands of kids are flocking to local pools. But are they safe?

The city’s public safety agencies joined a new safety coalition that launched Wednesday: The Indiana Drowning Prevention Coalition.

The Goldfish Swim School teamed up with IMPD, the Indianapolis Fire Department, Indiana Parks and Recreation, Riley Children’s at Indiana University Health and the National Drowning Prevention Alliance. They plan to use public forums, town hall meetings and swim lessons to teach water safety.

Seven-year-old Patrick Joseph practiced safety techniques Wednesday at the Goldfish Swim School in Carmel.

“If anybody fell in the pool, and let’s say they don’t know how to swim, as long as they know how to float back and move to the wall, that’s what they should be doing,” Patrick said.

It wasn’t just practice last July, when a teenager drowned trying to save a boy struggling in the water at a northwest Indianapolis pool.

Less than a month later, a one-year-old drowned at a west side pool.

Andrew Joseph is Patrick’s dad, the Goldfish Swim School’s area manager and, now, an organizer of the Indiana Drowning Prevention Coalition. He started the group after he grew sick and tired of hearing about tragedies on the news.

“Never relax around water. If you guys are at the pool and there’s lifeguards, it’s always your responsibility to watch your children,” Andrew Joseph said.

About 10 people die everyday from accidental drowning and two of them are usually younger than 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Joseph’s top three tips:

  • Keep kids away from retention ponds
  • Take swim lessons
  • Always remember a life jacket

The coalition also says parents should put their phones away to keep a closer watch on their kids.

The group plans to speak at local hospitals and pools and they’ll keep sharing their message all year. Kids like Patrick need to stay safe for their winter swims.

“It’s important even for adults,” Patrick said.

The group has not set any dates yet for when they will speak publicly on water safety.

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