Two recent drowning-related fatalities this past weekend in B.C. are a sobering reminder that this is the peak season for water-related deaths in the province.
In conjunction with National Drowning Prevention Week (July 16-23), the B.C. Coroners Service (BCCS) wants to remind everyone to practise water safety this summer.
Statistics show that July and August have the highest number of drowning deaths. The BCCS reported 43 water-related fatalities last year.
The majority of incidents involved males (88 per cent) and adults between the ages of 20 and 29 (23 per cent). Almost half of the fatalities took place on lakes, while nearly one-quarter were on rivers. The majority of deaths occurred while boating (44 per cent) and swimming (25 per cent).
Forty per cent of people who die on the water in B.C. are under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both.
The following are valuable tips for staying safe on the water this summer:
• Never consume alcohol before or during swimming, boating or other water activities.
• When boating, ensure everyone is wearing an appropriately sized PFD/lifejacket, and that the operator has his or her pleasure craft operator card.
• Closely supervise children when swimming, bathing or playing around water — even those who can swim.
• Be cautious about swimming in currents, and know what to do if you get into trouble.
• If you have a backyard pool, ensure it is fenced on all four sides with a self-closing, self-latching gate. When not using your pool, clear all toys out of the water and away from the edge, so they cannot tempt children to the water’s edge.
• Know how to respond in an emergency by taking First Aid/CPR training.