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Quebec first responders concerned by dozens of close drowning calls in June

Click to play video: 'Water safety concerns emerge in Quebec over increase in drownings' Water safety concerns emerge in Quebec over increase in drownings
WATCH: There has already been a dramatic spike in drownings across the province this summer. Experts are warning Quebecers to exercise caution near water. As Global’s Olivia O'Malley reports, they believe if proper safety measures aren't taken, the number of deaths by drowning could be on par with last year – Jul 6, 2021

There has already been a dramatic spike in drownings across the province this summer, prompting experts to warn Quebecers to exercise caution near bodies of water.

In the month of June, Urgences-santé first responders answered dozens of close calls.

“It’s 20 calls for drowning that we received,” said Urgences-santé spokesperson Benoit Garneau. “So we are worried and that’s why we want to talk about it today.”

According to the Lifesaving Society, two out of the 18 calls were fatal. In total this year, 32 Quebecers have drowned.

Read more: Quebec sees 67 new COVID-19 cases as hospitalizations remain stable

In 2020, the water safety organization estimates a total of 95 people across the province lost their lives by drowning, 15 more than the average over the last decade.

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“We can say we are on the same numbers and we expect to have the same reality like last year,” predicts the executive director of the Lifesaving Society’s Quebec branch, Raynald Hawkins.

With less people going away for vacation due to travel restrictions, Quebecers are expected to spend more time on and in the water this summer. Garneau said at least one family member should know how to perform CPR in case of an emergency.

“It’s important for citizens to learn CPR. You can save a life when you do,” he said.

All it takes is a few seconds for someone to drown. The Lifesaving Society is especially worried for children who haven’t had swimming lessons as a result of the pandemic. So they recommend parents keep an eye on them at all times.

Read more: Montreal withdraws bid to host FIFA World Cup in 2026

“It’s very important to ask the children please be aware when you’re near the water or in the water and make sure you have an adult supervise you all the time,” said Hawkins.

Regardless of your experience, Hawkins says never swim alone. He added when you’re on a boat it’s important to wear a personal flotation device.

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“85 (per cent) of the drowning victims with the boating fatalities it is because they didn’t wear or didn’t wear appropriately their life jacket,” he told Global News.

He said it’s crucial Quebecers follow safety tips this summer in order to enjoy the water, while preventing avoidable deaths.

Click to play video: 'Water safety tips' Water safety tips
Water safety tips – May 20, 2021

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