Skip to content

Water safety should be everyone's business

The upcoming Victoria Day long weekend is traditionally a time when families start heading for local lakes and rivers to get in some much needed recreation after the long winter months.

The upcoming Victoria Day long weekend is traditionally a time when families start heading for local lakes and rivers to get in some much needed recreation after the long winter months.

And while parents and other caregivers will no doubt be kept busy arranging all the things needed to make their trips a success, making sure youngsters know all about water safety should always be job one.

Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death for Canadian children, with 42 percent of all child drownings in the past decade occurring when the kids were around water without adult supervision.

Such shocking statistics point to one irrefutable conclusion: That parents and caregivers must do everything they can to keep kids safe whenever water is involved in family activities.

“Drowning happens quickly and silently,” says Health Canada. “It often happens when a child just slips under the water. A young child can drown in as little as one inch of water in just seconds. Most deaths of children aged one to four are in backyard pools, especially when they are not supervised.”

Health Canada has issued the following updated list of pointers for parents and other caregivers regarding young people and water safety:

• Don't rely on older children. An older sibling or buddy cannot be relied on to safely supervise a younger child. Children have drowned when an older child or sibling was watching them.

• Make sure there is an experienced swimmer with your child whenever they are in or around the water. If the child happens to slip into the water, an experienced swimmer will need to quickly get the child out of the water.

• Young children and weak swimmers must wear lifejackets when in, on or around the water and on a boat. And ensure the lifejacket fits the child's weight because a child could slip out of a lifejacket that is too big or not buckled up properly.

• If you have a property that is close to open water, fence off a play area for children that is away from the water.

• Put your child in swimming lessons, but remember that supervision is still needed, even if the child was or is in swimming lessons.

Obviously the Health Canada tips are clear to understand and easy to follow, and residents in every area community are encouraged to take them to heart.

Springtime is a great time for family fun in the great outdoors – but that fun should and must always include lots of attention to water safety, and in particular, how it applies to youngsters.