B.C.’ers urged to swim and boat safely this summer

Summer is high season for drowning in B.C., prompting a safety reminder ahead of the Canada Day long weekend

A properly-fitted personal flotation device is the best way to reduce the risk of accidental drowning while boating.

With warm summer weather in the long-term forecast, the province is urging boaters and swimmers to take precautions while out on the water.

The Ministry of Public Safety, the Solicitor General and the B.C. Coroners Service issued an information bulletin ahead of the Canada Day long weekend.

Swimmers are reminded to avoid swimming alone, and to stay out of the water if using alcohol or drugs.

Wearing a properly fitted personal flotation device is the single most effective step to avoid drowning while using a small watercraft.

A recent BC Coroners Service report on accidental drownings suggests that while the number of per capita drowning deaths in the province is falling, 605 drowning deaths in the past eight years that were analyzed were preventable.

Most drownings occur between May and August, when the most fatalities occur, accounting for one in five deaths.

Boating is the leading cause of drowning in recreational waters, accounting for 25 of 65 such deaths in 2015.

There were 23 fatalities last year caused by falls and swimming.

The report also found that:

  • Three times as many deaths occurred on lakes, ponds, rivers and creeks as the ocean
  • 20 per cent of people who died by drowning were not B.C. residents
  • Four of five of the deaths were male

As of June 26, there have already been 13 drowning deaths in B.C. in 2016.

 

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