Be water smart during National Drowning Prevention Week

The third week in July is designated as National Drowning Prevention Week by The Lifesaving Society of Canada. The week focuses on the drowning problem and drowning prevention to inform communities of water safety whether it be in a backyard pool or at the beach.

To mark the occasion, the Lifesaving Society flag will fly at Ottawa City Hall from July 19 to 25, 2020. The Ottawa Drowning Prevention Coalition will hold drowning prevention awareness activities and promote safe water practices this week and throughout the summer season.

Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death for children and third leading for adults, with Indigenous, northern and new Canadians having a disproportionate mortality burden. Annually, there are over 400 deaths by drowning in Canada.

Barbara Byers, Public Education Director with the Lifesaving Society said, “I am particularly concerned this year that there could be a spike in drownings given the increase in backyard pool sales and restrictions in lifeguard supervised swimming pools. I encourage all Canadians to be vigilant with young children and to swim in lifeguard supervised swimming areas if possible”.

Drowning is preventable. Even one drowning incident is one too many.
Statistics show that almost 70% of those who fatally drown never intend to go into the water and are often within 15 metres of safety. Nearly every Canadian knows someone who has died by drowning or has had a non-fatal drowning experience, whether personally or from their communities.

These key safety measures are the major risk factors presented in the 2020 Canadian and Ontario Drowning Reports —

  • Always directly supervise children around the water. If you are not within arms reach you’ve gone too far.
  • Every person should always wear a lifejacket or PFD when in a boat, regardless of age or swimming ability.
  • Learn to Swim to Survive. In most drownings, the victim never intended to go in the water and was often close to safety – could you survive a sudden and unexpected fall into the water?
  • Swim with a buddy. Swim near a lifeguard. Make smart choices before going into or out on the water.
  • Know your limits. Alcohol consumption is a factor in almost 40% of boating-related fatalities. Both alcohol and cannabis use impairs judgment, reflexes and balance. Stay sober when in, on or around the water.
  • Be Water Smart all year round. You can save a life, yours and someone else’s. Take a learn-to-swim, lifesaving or first aid class today.

“Drowning can happen in an instant. Everyone is at risk of drowning, even strong swimmers. Know your limits and use layers of protection to stay safe in and around the water,” said Sean Duffy, Area Chair with the Lifesaving Society.

The Lifesaving Society has a variety of NDPW resources on its – to assist in focusing attention on drowning and drowning prevention messages.


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