On a hot summer day, Canadians flock to the water but not everyone is doing so safely. According to a report by Lifesaving Society Canada, hundreds of Canadians are still dying in preventable water related deaths every year.
In its Canadian Drowning Report: 2017 Edition, the Lifesaving Society found there were 428 drowning deaths in Canadian waters in 2014, the lowest number of fatalities reported in the last 25 years. Despite the long-term progress, the report found high numbers of preventable deaths are still happening, especially among men between the age of 20 and 34.
“Although more drowning deaths occur among males in every region of Canada, the skew towards males was even more pronounced in Atlantic Canada. In Newfoundland and Labrador and in the Maritime provinces, nine out of 10 drowning victims were male,” it stated in the report.
Overall, the Lifesaving Society says safety messages appear to be working. Compared with a five-year period between 2005-2009, the water-related fatality rate decreased in most province and territories in 2010-2014.
The Northwest Territories decreased by the largest percentage (-44%), smaller decreases were observed in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia (-24%), the Yukon (-14%) and Nunavut (-13%). Provinces that experienced a more moderate decrease in water-related fatality rates were BC (-12%), Ontario (-11%), Alberta (-9%) and Quebec (-5%). Saskatchewan was the only province to report water-related fatality rate increase (+35%).
The report also found most deaths happen during the summer months in natural bodies of water such as lakes or ponds. In Calgary, the Bow River is a popular place for rafters and kayakers. Emergency officials ask that users be cautious and make sure they’re prepared in case anyone falls in to the water
“All river safety is important, water safety in general. PFDs are required for everyone in the boat – throw line in case they do get stranded, also hydration and a hat and a paddle to make sure they can make it ashore,” said Al Magwood, Battalion Chief with the Calgary Fire Department.