In 2014, 428 people were reported as having drowned. This figure, according to the Chief Coroner and Medical Examiner’s office of Canada, is the lowest reported amount of water-related fatalities in 25 years.
Despite the statistics demonstrating a gradual reduction, drowning continues to be a serious issue, being the third leading cause of unintentional fatalities worldwide. The Canada Safety Council is marking this year’s National Summer Safety Week – May 1 to 7 – by reminding Canadians to exercise caution around water.
Water safety, in general, can be a wide-reaching topic. Many factors play into each and every incident, including the use of personal floatation devices, the type of body of water, the victim’s age, gender and more. The activity on the water can also play a part, as well as whether the person ever had any intention of even being in the water.
With all these elements at play, there’s a lot to unpack. The best place to start the discussion, then, is to focus on where the majority of drownings occur – during recreational activities. These account for 61 per cent of all drownings, with the most common activities being swimming, walking/running/playing near water and boating, including kayaks, powerboats and fishing boats.
Personal Floatation Devices on the water
Personal floatation devices (PFDs) are essential any time you board a boat. And while Canadian law requires that you have a lifejacket on board for each person on board, the Canada Safety Council highly recommends not only that you have the PFD, but that you wear it at all times. A PFD won’t help you if it’s sitting on the seat while you’ve fallen in the water.
When purchasing your PFD, make sure it’s approved either by Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard or Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Regularly check that the fastening devices work properly and are unencumbered.
You should also invest in swimming lessons. Aside from being an important life skill, knowing even the basics of swimming can make the difference in an emergency situation. Your children, too, should be taught to swim from a young age.
As proud members of the Canadian Drowning Prevention Coalition, the Canada Safety Council knows that drowning remains one of the most avoidable types of fatalities. It’s through awareness, education and pre-emptive safety measures that you can do your part to help keep drowning at bay.
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For more information, please contact:
Manager, National Projects, Canada Safety Council