COLUMN: Water safety precautions urged

The Lifesaving Society ran its 2016 National Drowning Prevention Week July 18 to 23.

The Lifesaving Society ran its 2016 National Drowning Prevention Week July 18 to 23.

Consistent with previous years, “80 per cent of drowning victims are male and those aged 20 to 29 years are most at risk of drowning.  Alcohol consumption is a factor in nearly half of the incidents and for boaters, not wearing a lifejacket is the major contributor to boat-related drownings.”

To date there have been 21 drowning in B.C. this year.  “On average, 80 people lose their lives to drowning in B.C. each year.”

The National Drowning Prevention Week is “meant to remind everyone to take precautions when on or around the water this summer.”

Here are some statistics, according to British Columbia Drowning Report 2016 from the Lifesaving Society:

o By district, the greatest number of fatalities from drowning fatalities in 2013 occurred in Metro Vancouver (19 per cent), followed by Central Okanagan (eight per cent).

o 85 per cent of all drowning deaths occur in natural bodies of water (e.g. lakes, rivers, ocean) and not wearing a lifejacket was a factor in 51 per cent of all boating related drownings.

o Drowning fatalities occurring in lifeguard supervised settings continue to be rare: in 2009-2013 less than two per cent of drowning deaths in British Columbia occurred under lifeguard supervision.

o Most people drown in water that is less than 15 metres from safety.

Risk factors for boating

o Not wearing a PFD (72 per cent where known)

o Falling overboard (40 per cent)

o Alcohol Consumption (40 per cent)

o Boating Alone (33 per cent)

o Capsizing (30 per cent)

Risk factors for swimming

o Poor Swimming Ability (26 per cent)

o Alcohol Consumption (26 per cent)

o Swimming Alone (20 per cent)

ABC’s of Child Water Safety

Active Supervision — If you are not within arm’s reach, you’ve gone too far.

Designate at least one adult to be the ‘parent lifeguard’ who is doing nothing other than watching the kids.

They can get into trouble quickly and can slip under the water very quietly without the expected shouting and waving.

Barriers — The majority of backyard pool incidents involve a child getting into a pool area when they shouldn’t.

Proper, four sided (without one side being an entry to the house), self–closing, self-latching, min. 1.2 m (4 feet) high gate is vital.

Classes — Adults responsible for supervising children around water should have some basic knowledge of what to do when things go wrong.

Take a CPR or first aid course or lifesaving course at your local pool.

Also, swimming and water safety classes for children help to ensure their survival from an unexpected fall into the water.

Summerland schools are a leader in drowning prevention programming.  Giant’s Head and Trout Creek Elementary run a Summerland Swim Program (10 Red Cross lessons) for Grade 3 students which is fully supported by the PAC and a K-5 Learn to Swim program (four lessons) for all other grades.

The Summerland Montessori School also provides Red Cross Swim Lessons for all grades.

Be proactive with your swimming and lifesaving abilities.  The Summerland Aquatic Centre offers swim lessons for all ages and abilities as well as Standard First Aid and CPR, and Lifeguarding courses.

Joanne Malar is the program coordinator for Summerland Recreation, three-time Olympic swimmer, 2012 Olympic Commentator, kinesiologist and holistic nutritionist.


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