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Preventing child drownings: tips to keep your child safe

Doctor Ping Wei Chan, a pediatric transport physician, demonstrates life-saving techniques on a child-sized mannequin to promote awareness of National Drowning Prevention Week.
Doctor Ping Wei Chan, a pediatric transport physician, demonstrates life-saving techniques on a child-sized mannequin to promote awareness of National Drowning Prevention Week. Global News

CALGARY – STARS and the Lifesaving Society teamed up Tuesday to share a message about staying safe in or on the water.  As part of an awareness campaign for National Drowning Prevention Week, they demonstrated how they respond to a drowning call involving a child.

Approximately 500 Canadians drown every year, 28 in Alberta.

The Lifesaving Society says prevention is key.

“Water-related fatalities are preventable” said Lifesaving Society Chief Administrative Officer Barbara Costache. “Drowning is often only talked about when a fatality occurs; we need to talk about drowning prevention every day.”

The Society says backyard pools pose the greatest danger to young children, accounting for one-third of water-related deaths for children under five years old.  Bathtubs account for almost a quarter of child drownings.

The Society has the following tips to keep children safe:

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  • Never leave children alone near water. And stay close – always within arms’ reach.
  • Designate an adult to supervise children in or around water.
  • Have 100% attention when supervising, by putting away distractions like cellphones.
  • Watch the face – especially the eyes. Many victims don’t call, wave, or signal for help because they can’t keep their head or arms above water.
  • Young children and non-swimmers should wear a lifejacket.
  • Check for hazards in and around water, and know your limits.
  • Never swim alone or while intoxicated.

The Lifesaving Society recommends every child learn swimming skills, starting at a young age.

The organization focuses on public education, research and safety management services. More than a million Canadians participate annually in the Society’s training courses.

National Drowning Prevention Week runs from July 19 to 25.