According to the Lifesaving Society, Alberta and Saskatchewan combine to account for around 50 of the approximately 500 drowning incidents each year.
“A lot of people think that if they can already swim, that’s enough,” said Shelby Rushton, chief executive officer of the Lifesaving Society’s Saskatchewan branch.
National Drowning Prevention Week in Canada began on Monday, July 20 and runs through Friday, July 25. Across Saskatchewan, several cities are leading activities at pools that promote water safety, including mock rescues, safety demonstrations and colouring contests.
Rushton said that while the majority of people take water safety to heart, too many still brush off the notion that they could indeed drown.
“I think they take it seriously when it happens to someone else. They think, ‘Oh, that’s really tragic,’ but then they’ll turn around the next day and not think it could happen to them.”
Rushton says that males between the ages of 40 and 50, in particular, make up over half of the water incidents that involve drowning. In fact, she estimates that the precise figure is close to 75 per cent, which she says can be attributed to the tendency for males to take more risks.
Throughout the week, and all year round, the Lifesaving Society urges people to abide by the famous water safety guidelines that have been encouraged for years.
See “Water safety,” Page 11
That includes attentively supervising young children around water, not swimming alone, checking for hazards and being aware of surroundings before getting in the water, not swimming or operating a boat while intoxicated and, of course, wearing a lifejacket under the appropriate circumstances.
“We’ve been saying the same thing over and over. The message gets out to the majority of the people, but like I said before, they become complacent, they don’t think it’s going to happen to them,” said Rushton. “It takes about 30 seconds to do up a lifejacket and that 30 seconds could save your life.”
Historically, drowning has taken place most frequently in July and August. Nearly two-thirds of drowning deaths involve recreational activities and 48 percent of drowning occurs in lakes.