- Recent drownings across the Northwoods only a month into summer are a grim reminder of the dangers summer activities can pose.
But a group of people is dedicated to keeping the water a safe place to be.
The Oneida County Drowning Prevention Task Force is launching the "Water Watchers" program. It's designed to make sure a pair of adult eyes never leaves the water while little ones are in it.
"For Wisconsin in 2011 the leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and four is drowning," says Jill Blake, the Public Health Nurse for the Oneida County Health Department.
And 17 kids under 18 died in Wisconsin in 2010. YMCA Aquatics Director Melissa Nieman says all drownings are preventable.
"Watch your children, watch those non-swimmers that are with you. Life jackets save lives. Eighty percent of people that drown in boating accidents could have been saved by a life jacket," says Nieman.
"If you have a group of people everyone is busy, and everyone else thinks the other person is watching the children. And the Water Watchers program is designed to put someone in charge," says Blake.
Wearing this badge means you've pledged not to be on your cell phone, reading, napping or otherwise distracted while your eyes are supposed to be on the water.
"A guaranteed pair of eyes on the water means increased protection for you children," says Blake.
And if you do need a break just hand the badge over to another adult who can take over for you.
"It seems already this summer we've had a lot of drownings in Wisconsin. You turn on the news and it's a child, it's an adult trying to save their child. We're just trying to get the word out to just pay attention," says Nieman.
Anyone who frequents Oneida County beaches can be part of the Water Watchers program. Just contact the YMCA of the Northwoods or the health department.
Melissa Nieman at the YMCA of the Northwoods can be reached at 715-361-2820
Jill Blake, the Pulbic Health Nurse at the Health Department can be reached at 715-369-6110