Approximately 520 people drown each year in Canada, according to the Canadian Red Cross. These findings are based on ongoing surveillance of data around unintentional water-fatalities compiled by the Red Cross from coroner’s offices for the period of 1991-2012.
This year’s Water Safety Week is June 6-13, 2015. The annual campaign is aimed at educating Canadians about water safety and preventing drowning incidents. The Red Cross report reveals some eye-opening facts about drowning.
• More than 50% of water-related deaths occur in the summer months of June, July and August.
• 20% of drownings are due to unexpected falls into water. Dozens of Canadians are injured or drown during activities where they never expected to enter the water.
• Over 60% of incidents occurred while Canadians were engaged in recreational activities.
• Children aged 1 – 4 and men aged 15 plus are at the highest risk of water fatalities.
Often the risk of water-related injury and death when on or near water is far greater than perceived. For this reason it is important to take proper precautions in and around water. Everyone should learn to swim, have water safety knowledge and learn lifesaving skills like CPR.
A misconception about drowning is that a person who is in trouble will make splashing noises and call for help but often drowning is silent and very quick. A small child can disappear in seconds and can drown in just a few centimeters of water. Typically child deaths occur in backyard pools, toddler pools, ponds, the bathtub, or at the beach. Children 1-4 years old accounted for 42% of fatalities involving backyard pools.
It is critical that adults never let their guard down when children are around water. This means that an adult must always focus on actively watching children to prevent drowning. A supervising adult should never be distracted by anything including a text message, a ringing phone or entertaining guests.
The second high-risk group, men 15 and older, accounted for 83% of all unexpected drownings. Consumption of alcohol continues to play a significant factor. Alcohol was present or suspected in at least 38% of deaths of men in this age group.
The message for boaters is strong and clear: stay alert, be in control and never consume alcohol before or during a boating outing.
Lifejackets save lives but were unfortunately worn properly only in 12% of boating-related deaths. In 21% of cases a lifejacket was present on board but was not worn. When worn properly, a lifejacket will keep a person who falls unexpectedly into water at the surface.
Make your summer an enjoyable and safe one by being water smart.