May 18, 2017 3:15 pm
Updated: May 24, 2017 5:04 pm

4 water safety tips for the May long weekend

WATCH ABOVE: Many Albertans will be headed to lakes and rivers this long weekend. But before they do, they're being urged to remember how to stay safe around the water. Vinesh Pratap reports.

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As Albertans head to lakes around the province this May long weekend, experts are cautioning them to be careful around water.

According to the Alberta Drowning Report, 183 people drowned in Alberta’s lakes and rivers between 2009 and 2013, with 59 per cent happening between May and September, and 54 per cent occurring on weekends.

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“Sometimes people aren’t familiar with the dangers that water can present. It looks beautiful when you’re there and when you’re on it, and maybe you’re not aware what precautions people are taking who are on the water,”¬†safety expert Patti Stark, a community mobilization coordinator, said.

“Sometimes we get busy and excited and we forget too. We just need to take a step back and just take a minute and think about what we need to do to keep everybody safe.”

READ MORE: Water safety season kicks off in Calgary

Belton provides five safety tips for Albertans heading to lakes this holiday weekend:

  1. Actively supervise children
  2. Get safety training
  3. Wear a life-jacket
  4. Don’t drink and drive – whether it’s a car or a boat

The number-one cause of boating-related drownings is the victim not wearing a life jacket or personal flotation device, according to the report.

“A life-jacket is only useful if it’s being worn,” Stark said. “It can’t save your life if it’s sitting on the bottom of the boat.”

When it comes to children, it’s reported that drowning is the second leading cause of preventable deaths involving kids under 10 years old. Stark said parents often overestimate the abilities of their children.

“When it comes to water, err on the side of caution and provide more attention and focus than you might initially think is necessary.”

It’s recommended that a child’s life-jacket includes a collar handle, so the child can be more easily grabbed from the water.

It’s also reported that alcohol is a factor in nearly a quarter of boating-related drownings.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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