Emergency responders at the bridge on the Okanagan River Channel at Green Mountain Road and Highway 97 after a drowning incident. (Black Press Media files)

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

There have been a staggering 44 drownings in B.C. so far this year.

That’s compared to 28 water-related tragedies by this time in 2017, according to the Lifesaving Society, which is urging British Columbians to be prepared when heading for the water.

Dale Miller, executive director of the society’s B.C. and Yukon branch, said this year’s uptick follows years of declining fatalities from a high of 80 drownings in 2015.

“I believe the prolonged stretch of good weather this year is a factor,” he said in an email to Black Press Media. Roughly 67 per cent of all drownings in the province happen between May and September.

READ MORE: 10 things you didn’t know about life-jackets

WATCH: Near drowning captured on popular B.C. river

One statistic that sets this year apart from others, the society said, is that four of the drowning victims were would-be rescuers who got into trouble themselves while trying to save another person’s life.

Most drownings occurred while boating, according to the society’s 2018 report, followed by swimming. Roughly 37 per cent occurred on a lake or pond, 28 per cent in a river, 16 per cent in the ocean, seven per cent in a bathtub and four per cent in a pool.

Two of this year’s drownings happened on Buntzen Lake, the first involving a male teen and the second a man in his 40s. There, the underwater terrain often catches people off guard, rescue officials have said.

There have also been a number of close calls, such as along the choppy waters of the Chilliwack-Vedder River, which often results in log jams on curves of the channel.

According to drowning data over the last decade, a majority of water fatalities occur in southern B.C.

Statistics show all B.C. drowning incidents this year were preventable.

Risk factors that played a role in almost all the deaths, regardless of what the person was doing when they drowned, includes not wearing a personal flotation device, alcohol consumption and being out on the water alone.

Eighty-eight per cent of all drownings of a child are due to either distracted or non-existent supervision.

“All boaters and paddlers should wear a personal flotation device (PFD), not just have one in the boat with them,” said chief coroner Lisa Lapointe in a June news release.

“Additionally, children, non-swimmers and weak swimmers should wear a PFD anytime they’re in or near the water. People don’t realize how quickly they can get into trouble – particularly when they’re in unfamiliar waters.”

To check out tips to stay safe near water, visit Lifesaving.bc.ca


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Team BC’s having fun, ‘feeling good’ about back-to-back victories

A junior curling team, based out of Langley, has yet to lose a game in the national championships.

Dr. Lipjob avoids jail, gets 30-day suspended sentence

She will have to serve the 30 days in prison if she commits a breach during her two-year’s probation

Surrey farmers taking stock of revamped Canada Food Guide

Products that were once big at the table — like meat and dairy — have been put on the back-burner

VIDEO: ‘The dog picks the job’: Meet the newest member of the Surrey RCMP

Cambria, a labrador-golden retriever mix, is the first victim services dog at the detachment

Cloverdale’s Dan Gibbons remembered for his devotion, humour

Longtime local served with RCMP for more than 35 years

Canada’s archive buys rare book that hints at Nazi plans for North America

The 1944 book may have served as a blueprint for a Nazi purge

Teravainen’s 3 points lift Hurricanes to 5-2 win over Canucks

Vancouver heads into all-star break on losing note

B.C. hospital apologizes for veteran’s five-day hallway stay

Clinical director of Victoria General Hospital says case of retired veteran ‘definitely excessive’

Speaker Darryl Plecas says ‘justice’ needed for legislature employees

Plecas spoke to media at the opening of a pedestrian and cycling bridge in Abbotsford Wednesday

Advocate hopes B.C. legislature scandal leads to more transparency

‘Depressing’ that it takes a scandal to inspire freedom of information reform, says Sara Neuert

Ex-Mountie involved in Taser death at Vancouver airport sues government

Kwesi Millington claims he acted in accordance with RCMP training

47 men arrested by Vancouver police for allegedly seeking sex with teenage girls

Seven of those arrested have been charged as part of a two-month operation

Richmond businesses struggle to hire and keep staff because of high cost of housing

Chamber of commerce calls for diverse housing options, redevelopment of George Massey corridor

LETTER: Seniors home care, day programs expanding, Adrian Dix says

B.C. health minister responds to latest Seniors Advocate report

Most Read