July 21-27 is Drowning Prevention Week across Ottawa and the country. With this weekend’s forecast of extremely hot weather, many of you will be travelling to the nearest lake, river or swimming pool to remain cool and enjoy the summer season.
Did you know that the leading cause of death for children under the age of five is drowning? Toddlers are particularly at risk when unattended because of their mobility, inquisitive minds and the lack of capability to self-rescue. Drowning can happen in a matter of seconds in the backyard pool, at the cottage or at a campsite. Always keep your eyes on your toddlers and children — not on your phone!
Another fact — older adults are also drowning at increased rates as baby boomers have a tendency to swim on their own.
With municipal beaches, wading pools, splash pads and outdoor pools now open — only when lifeguards are on duty, should you visit public beaches or pools. Below are some important tips to keep you safe around all waterways and pools.
- Always wear flotation devices if a weak or non-swimmer, or when swimming on your own
- Rid yourself of distractions when children are swimming (no cellphones)
- Stay within arm’s length of youngsters in the water
- Enroll in swimming lessons. The City of Ottawa provides lessons and you can register for lessons at the Cardel-Rec Goulbourn Complex https://documents.ottawa.ca/sites/default/files/ss2019_swim_a-m_en.pdf
- Enroll in a CPR and first-aid course. You can do so through the City of Ottawa web site at https://ottawa.ca/en/residents/emergency-services/ottawa-paramedic-service/first-aid-and-cpr-courses
- Ottawa By-law #2013-39 recommends that a fence at a minimum of five feet or 1.5 metres high with a self-latching gate with a lock is installed around a pool to keep children from wandering into a pool area
- Always swim with a buddy
If you find yourself on a boat during the summer months, there are some laws and tips in place to keep you safe:
- Don’t just have life jackets on the boat – wear them at all times – you can be fined for not doing so
- Ensure you have the appropriate number of life jackets or personal flotation devices (PFDs) proportional to the number of passengers
- Alcohol or cannabis have no place on a boat – you can lose your driving license if found to have consumed either while operating a boat
- All motor boats require a life jacket or PFD for each person, whistle or sound signalling device, bailing bucket or manual water pump, watertight flashlight, three Transport Canada approved flares, buoyant tow ropes, working navigation lights, additional buoys, additional oars or paddles and a certified working fire extinguisher
- You must have a boating licence along with proof of ownership and insurance with you at all times – boat licence courses are offered on the Transport Canada website https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/marinesafety/debs-obs-menu-1362.htm.
- All motor boats, over 10hp, must be licenced with the numbers displayed on both sides of the bow
- When operating a canoe or kayak you require a whistle, bailing bucket, oars/paddles, life jacket or PFD and watertight flashlight
Drowning can be Preventable if you follow safe swimming or boating tips. Annually, approximately 500 Canadians die in preventable water-related occurrences. Practice water safety and your summer will be full of adventurous fun!
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