Be safe in and on the water

Interior Health reminds the public that it’s important to be safe when in, near or on the water

As temperatures remain high across our region, many people are hitting the water to keep cool. Interior Health would like to remind the public that it’s important to be safe when in, near or on the water. More people die from drowning in the Interior region than in any other area of the province. So far this year, there have been 25 deaths in B.C. due to accidental drowning, 15 of which have occurred in the Interior.

“Water activities like swimming and boating can be a lot of fun and a great way to cool down, but drowning is a real danger,” said Dr. Lizette Elumir, resident public health physician with Interior Health. “Drowning can happen fast, sometimes in less than a minute.”

Dr. Elumir stresses that prevention is the key to reducing drowning deaths in our region. She offers the following tips:

• Always swim with a buddy.

• Do not go beyond your abilities. Do not go farther or into deeper water than you can handle.

• Never dive into unknown water. Underwater objects may appear deeper than they are.

• Don’t mix alcohol or other drugs with water activities; these substances can affect judgment, co-ordination and the ability to self-rescue.

• Always supervise children when around water; a child can drown in seconds in only a few inches of water.

• Install four-sided fencing around pools with a gate that cannot be opened by a child, and child proof or lock doors that open directly to a backyard pool area.

• Learn life-saving techniques including CPR and artificial respiration.

• Take a marine safety course.

• Always wear a life-jacket when on a boat, personal water craft (such as a Jet Ski), paddle board or any other water craft; nearly 90 per cent of all boaters who drown are not wearing a life-jacket or not wearing it properly.

• Always have a spotter when towing people who are skiing, wake boarding or riding on an inflatable.

• Use caution when near water. Falling into a pool or other body of water can be very dangerous. If you hit your head and become unconscious, you can drown very quickly.

Drowning is almost always preventable. July 19-26 is National Drowning Prevention week – a week dedicated to reducing the number of water-related fatalities and near drowning incidents through increasing awareness of water safety.

For more information:

• Safety tips for swimmers: http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/healthfiles/hfile39.stm

• Safe Boating Guide: http://www.tc.gc.ca/publications/EN/TP511/PDF%5CHR/TP511E.pdf

• Signs of drowning:  http://www.redcross.ca/who-we-are/red-cross-stories/2013/drowning-a-silent-killer