SwimmingSPRINGFIELD – A new law led by State Senator Ram Villivalam will introduce more water safety instructions into school curriculum for youth in preschool through sixth-grade following a recent tragedy that occurred in the 8th District.

“With water safety instruction, more of our youth and families will be equipped with the tools to protect themselves and others,” said Villivalam (D-Chicago). “This legislation is an important step toward saving lives and ensuring better water safety education across the state.”

Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children age 5-14 after car accidents, and at age 15, drowning rates triple. For every fatal child drowning, another eight children receive emergency care for non-fatal drowning injuries.

"Today marks a turning point in our children's safety," said State Representative Eva-Dina Delgado (D-Chicago). "We promised to provide comprehensive water safety education, and we delivered. I'm thankful to Governor Pritzker for joining us in this effort by signing this legislation into law earlier today."

Villivalam’s measure seeks to prevent as many of these deaths as possible by beginning water safety instruction in preschool.

“Drowning is the number one reason a child will die before kindergarten and the number two killer for all of childhood,” said Halle Quezada, a teacher and mother who lives in the district Villivalam represents. “When my four-year-old had fire safety in school, she was eager to make sure our whole family knew how to survive a fire. With this bill, we hope Illinois families will have water safety plans too and we can finally reverse these terrifying statistics.”

House Bill 2104 requires school boards supported wholly or partially by the state to provide water safety instruction that incorporates evidence-based water safety materials and resources from preschool through sixth-grade.

 “Water safety education in schools is the fastest approach to reach the largest audience and make a significant impact in the shortest amount of time,” said Dave Benjamin of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. “We teach kids how to navigate those threats in school and we are proud of Illinois for following the research and taking a step to change the horrifying statistics around drowning.”

House Bill 2104 was signed into law on Friday and is effective immediately.