Water Safety Precautions Can Avoid Drowning Deaths


It seems that the news of drownings in Ontario comes several times a week. Drowning is a real danger in the summer in Canada. Drowning is defined as death from respiratory impairment in or under a liquid and is now only used to refer to those who die.

Drowning is the second leading cause of death for infants and young children in Canada.

Who Drowns?

According to the Government of Canada there were:

  • 655 drownings between April 2011 and July 2019.
  • More males (61%) died than women died.
  • Young children under the age of 10 accounted for 79% of deaths.
  • 57% of drownings occur in public and private swimming pools and 49% of those deaths are children 4 or under
  • 19% of deaths occurred in or around natural bodies of water (lakes, ponds, rivers). 42% of those were children 4 or under
  • 125 drownings occurred in bathtubs and 80% of those deaths involved children under the age of 1

These facts underscore the need for basic water safety skills for all Canadians. Swimming pools and natural bodies of water are common in Canada and they provide recreation, exercise and cooling for children and adults. They must be used safely, and people must be supervised carefully.

If you own a backyard pool and you host events with friends, or if you have children then you must be especially diligent.

Important Water Safety Tips:

  • Learn to swim, enroll your children in swimming lessons
  • ALWAYS swim with a buddy
  • ALWAYS supervise children and non-swimmers in or around the water
  • ALWAYS wear a life jacket when boating
  • DON’T drink and boat or drink and swim
  • NEVER leave children unattended in the bath

What can you do to keep people safe?

  • Keep children and non-swimmers with arms’ reach
  • Choose a comfortable lifejacket and wear it
  • Enforce water safety rules at your pool, cottage or when you are at the lake. Life jackets are like seat belts, not optional safety equipment.
  • Consider hiring a lifeguard for your pool if you are hosting an event.

The Red Cross suggests the following simple family rules for your backyard pool:

  • Make sure your pool is fenced and the gate and latch are secure
  • Establish pool rules and enforce them.
  • Unless your pool is designed for diving don’t allow it.
  • Have life-saving equipment readily accessible – throwable life rings, reaching poles, a phone, and a first aid kit
  • Have a plan including an adult supervisor, and emergency procedures
  • Avoid overcrowding your pool – always keep an eye on children and the bottom of the pool.
  • Never rely on water wings, inflatable toys, floaties or pool noodles as safety devices.
  • Never let your children into a body of water alone.
  • Consider installing a pool alarm that can detect a 15 lb (6 kg) weight hitting the water.

Enjoy the summer. Swim safely and supervise your children closely.

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