When the weather warms up, the number of drownings and accidents on the water increases. Following a few simple practices during the summer months could make the difference between a fun day on the water and a tragedy.
- Drowning is the third-leading cause of unintentional death in Canada following car accidents and poisonings.
- Between 2011 and 2015, 2,262 people lost their lives in Canadian waters, according to the Lifesaving Society.
- In that same period, 72 per cent of drownings — about 320 deaths each year — happened in lakes, rivers and the ocean, while 21 per cent occurred in bathtubs, pools and hot tubs.
- Nearly 80 per cent of drowning victims are male. The national drowning rate for females is 0.5 per 100,000 population compared to males at 2.1 per 100,000 population.
- Drug and alcohol impaired driving, whether on land or water, is unsafe and illegal. Nearly 30 per cent of teenage and adult water-related fatalities involve alcohol.
- The 2018 Canadian Drowning Report shows that most drownings occur between May and September and 20 per cent of all drownings happen in July.
- More than half of drownings happen on a weekend, and most on a Saturday.
- The risks of accidents go up when alone on the water. Across all age groups, one-third of drownings happen when individuals are alone.
- Not wearing a life-jacket or personal floatation device is a contributing factor in many deaths on the water, including 84 per cent of boating deaths.
- In water below 15 degrees Celsius, life-jackets provide insulation and help avoid cold water shock and hypothermia — dangers even the strongest swimmers can't avoid.
- Every boat in Canada, including canoes and kayaks, must have a Canadian-approved personal floatation device for each person, according to Canadian Small Vessel Regulations. Much like seatbelts, life-jackets are ineffective if not used correctly.
- Operating a vessel with improper or inaccessible life-jackets and safety equipment can lead to a fine of at least $200.
- Supervision is essential for safety. Children should be kept within an adult's sight and reach. A child can drown in as little as an inch of water and two-thirds of drowning deaths among children under 5 happen when supervision is absent.
- The Red Cross suggests that pools should be fenced in on all sides and have a self-closing gate to deter curious children from approaching the water.
- The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends swimming lessons for all children over 4. Nevertheless, confident swimming can't replace adult supervision.