As we enter the warmer months of July, we also quickly approach National Drowning Prevention Week. The Lifesaving Society designates the third week in July every year as NDPW and aims to launch drowning prevention initiatives around the country.
Every year, nearly 500 Canadians die in preventable, water-related incidents. Of those 500 deaths, alcohol is factor in 40% of cases. While this statistic is quite alarming, perhaps the most alarming statistic of all is that 100% of drowning deaths among children last year occurred due to absent or distracted supervision. In 2019 alone, 29% of drowning deaths in Alberta were attributed to bathtubs. While we don’t think of bathing as being particularly dangerous (quite the opposite in fact), unsupervised activity in/on/around the water is proven year after year to be fatal. Drowning is not loud and recognizable as many often think. In fact, it’s fast and silent, often occurring in less than 30 seconds.
While we often question the rather strict supervision policies at swimming facilities, it is vital that undistracted supervision is present if we ever hope to see a Canada free from drowning and water-related injury. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in drownings across the globe since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as swimming lessons contribute to an 88% reduction in risk of drowning. With no swimming lessons currently being offered in most (if not all) parts of the country, it is up to us to adhere to enhanced supervision while in, on and around the water.