‘Be prepared’: Lifesaving Society urging Manitobans to be water-wise

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‘Be prepared’: Lifesaving Society urging Manitobans to be water-wise.
WATCH: Kevin Tordiffe of the Lifesaving Society of Manitoba says the best thing people can do to prevent tragedy on the water this summer is to have a plan beforehand. Global's Nolan Kowal reports – Jun 15, 2018

The Lifesaving Society of Manitoba is telling Manitobans to be smart this summer as thousands start to make their way to bodies of water throughout the province.

Kevin Tordiffe, the organization’s acting CEO, said the best thing people can do is to have a plan beforehand.

“Be prepared. Know where you’re going, what you’re planning on doing, what the activities are,” he said. “Make sure you take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family and be water-wise while you’re out there.”

READ MORE: RCMP investigating tragic death at Manitoba campground

Tordiffe said drowning numbers in the province have been static over the past five years with about 20 fatalities per year. He said the main circumstances surrounding the deaths have been drinking and boating.

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“Over 90 per cent of boating fatalities in Manitoba, in the last year of stats, did not have a life jacket on or a personal floatation device,” he said.

“So that’s pretty simple, that and ‘stop drinking and boating’ are pretty simple messages I think.

READ MORE: Lac du Bonnet RCMP investigating second drowning this month

“Most people who drown in Manitoba never had any intention of going in the water. So drowning is not just a swimming problem. It’s a problem in all our recreation activities.”

Tordiffe said the most common age groups for Manitoba drownings are children under age 5, followed by men ages 18-35, then seniors over age 65.

Personal floatation devices (PFD)

Swimmers and boaters now have more access to life jackets thanks to the provincially-run Life Jacket Loan Program, in which visitors can borrow a life jacket and then return it following their activity in certain provincial parks.

A list of those parks is available on the province’s website.


Currently there are three beaches that have beach safety officers keeping an eye on swimmers. They are Grand Beach, Winnipeg Beach, and the beach at Birds Hill Provincial Park. While these officers are trained lifeguards, they focus more on public education, patrolling the beach and identifying hazards rather than supervising each swimmer.

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Tordiffe said there is always more that can be done in an effort to protect boaters and swimmers.

“We would always advocate no matter where — a small pool, a small pond, a big municipal or provincial beach — they should be looking at lifeguard services or a model like the provincial beach safety program.”

Additional safety advice from the province is available here.

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