Diving in to help someone struggling to swim should be a last resort: Lifesaving Society

The disappearance and presumed drowning of a man in Buntzen Lake is just the latest in a spate of deaths already this summer. John Hua has some advice from experts on how to stay safe, and what to do if you see someone in trouble.

If you saw someone struggling to stay afloat in the water, would you immediately jump in to save them?

That should actually be your last resort, according to the Lifesaving Society which said four people have drowned in B.C. so far this year while trying to help someone else, compared to none last year.

As it hosts a Swim to Survive program in Vancouver during its National Drowning Prevention Week, the charity is also reminding people to be prepared for the worst when taking a plunge.

“One of the skills taught today will be self-rescue and stressing the importance of low-risk methods to prevent additional victims when trying to rescue someone,” the organization’s executive director Dale Miller said.

The society said with the search for a missing swimmer in Buntzen Lake near Coquitlam likely morphing into a recovery effort, it would mark a total of 30 people who have drowned in the province so far in 2018.

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It’s only a small jump from from the society’s figure of 28 drowning deaths in B.C. around the same time last year, but the risk remains the same.

The Lifesaving Society said more than 500 children and youth will be trained at its drowning prevention course at New Brighton Pool in Vancouver on Wednesday.

Among the basic skills required to survive an unexpected fall in the water are rolling in deep water, treading water and being able to swim to safety for 50 metres.

– With files from John Hua