Water safety starts with you

Kelli Sharkey
Alberta Health Services

Cooling off in the pool, being out in the water in a boat or other watercraft, spending time at the beach – these are all summertime activities we look forward to. Now’s the time to re-visit how to stay safe around the water and prevent drowning.
According to the Canadian Red Cross, young children ages one to four and men ages 15 to 44 are at the greatest risk of drowning. Drowning is one of the leading causes of unintentional death for Canadian children ages one to four. Small children are also the most vulnerable group for near drownings. For every death, there are an estimated four to five additional near-drowning incidents, which require hospitalization and often result in varying degrees of brain damage.
Infant and toddler drownings occur mainly in pools and bathtubs, while older children and youth drowned mainly in large bodies of water. Other factors for adults in water-related fatalities included alcohol consumption and water current. Whether you’re swimming at the local pool, at a lake, or in a dugout there are things you can do to be safe.
Follow all rules and the direction of staff and lifeguards at public pools. Always ensure proper supervision and that all requirements for fencing are in place whether it’s a small wading pool or a backyard pool. When playing around lakes and rivers ensure children are always within arm’s reach. Rivers can have strong currents and lakes can suddenly drop off into deep water. Everyone with access to a dugout should take swimming lessons and learn CPR. Always supervise children or restrict access if supervision is not available. Teach kids that diving into unknown waters should be avoided unless properly trained and they are sure that the water is deep enough.
Many drownings and injuries occur while boating. Learning some simple precautions can help ensure safety on and around water. All boats are required to have lifejackets or Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) for everyone on board. Make sure to wear a lifejacket or PFD to help reduce the risk of drowning.
Don’t mix boating and alcohol. Alcohol consumption is a major factor in many boating-related incidents.Knowing your environment, including water temperature, currents and wind conditions is also important. Many boating-related drownings are the result of people not being aware of these environmental factors. High-risk behaviours, such as sharp turns or standing up in a boat are also risk factors in boat-related drownings.
Remind yourself that prevention and education can save lives. For more information on water safety, visit redcross.ca or ahs.ca. Myhealth.alberta.ca.

 

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