For Immediate Release
Friday, May 25, 2007

ISBE, IDNR urge parents, teachers and students to start out the summer season with safety in mind

Summer means more free time for students, urges helmets for bikes and ATV’s, adult supervision when swimming

Springfield, Ill. – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) today urged school officials and parents to keep safety first and foremost in their minds as they plan summer activities for children. The vast majority of the more than 2 million public K-12 students are beginning their summer vacation, when they will have a lot more time for outdoor activities. Unsupervised outdoor activities can lead to tragedy if simple safety rules aren’t followed.

“Summer vacation is a time when kids will have a lot more free time to enjoy outdoor activities and we urge parents and teachers to remind students to have fun, but always keep safety in mind,” said State School Superintendent Christopher Koch. “Whether it’s going to the local pool or lake or riding bikes or ATV’s, there are common sense steps that should be followed for keeping everyone safe. We want everyone to have fun this summer, but we also want to make sure everyone comes back to school this fall.”

One of the most popular summertime activities is swimming, however, the Centers for Disease Control reported in 2004 more than 3,300 people drowned. Drowning remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children between the ages of 1 and 14. Parents are urged to select swimming sites that have a lifeguard whenever possible and to remind their children to always swim with a buddy. Pool barriers should be placed around home swimming pools to prevent access and pool alarms should be used. You should also be prepared in case of an emergency, have safety equipment and a phone should be kept nearby.

“Being outdoors, whether at a pool, on a lake or in a park are all wonderful experiences, but they all come with a certain level of risk that requires respect,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources Acting Director Sam Flood. “I encourage everyone to enjoy the outdoors by being safe and prepared for all the wonderful experiences that lie ahead this summer.”

ISBE and IDNR urge all parents and teachers to remind their students to wear helmets when riding bicycles or ATV’s this summer. The number of bicyclists killed in crashes with cars in Illinois increased slightly last year, from 21 in 2005 to 24 in 2006. This came after such fatalities had decreased the year before from 25 in 2004.

The number of persons killed in ATV crashes also increased last year, from 6 in 2005 to 11 in 2006, with the majority of those killed (7) under the age of 18. Additionally, nearly one third of the 1,612 persons injured in ATV crashes in Illinois last year were age 20 or younger. According to the U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission, 92 percent of all ATV related fatalities are the result of warned against behaviors, such as not wearing a helmet, riding on public roads, youth riding unsupervised and carrying a passenger on a single rider ATV.

More information on bike-riding safety is available online at the Illinois Department of Transportation website: .

For more information on ATV safety, visit the ATV Safety Institute’s website at: .