Residents enjoy water activities at Saratoga beach near Campbell River. Lifesaving Society, a non-profit that aims to reduce water-related deaths urges citizens to be cautious and mindful of safety measures. Photo by Binny Paul/Campbell River Mirror

With 18 drowning deaths in B.C this year, advocates urge caution during summer

The age group with the highest risk of drowning are young adults, mostly males between 20-34 according to Lifesaving Society

More than 400 Canadians die in preventable water-related incidents every year.

As British Columbians look to summer staycations and many head to local lakes, rivers and ocean, safety advocates are urging for caution as drowning risks spike between May to September.

With 18 drowning deaths in B.C. this year, it is important to be “prepared ahead of time,” said Dale Miller, executive director of Lifesaving Society’s B.C. and Yukon branch.

Out of these drownings, four deaths have been recorded on Vancouver Island, and the Okanagan area has seen the highest cases with over five deaths.

Most drowning deaths are “preventable” and can be done so with proper knowledge of environment and safety measures.

“Don’t jump into water right way,” said Miller.

His advice is to check the characteristics of the water first – whether it’s fast running or cold – then look for drop-offs and rocks, and also be prepared for any emergency.

“If someone were to get into trouble, people need to know what to do.”

The majority of those who drown are within three to five metres of safety, he said. People should have something to reach out or throw to a swimmer if they get into trouble. It’s also important to stay sober, bring a swimming buddy along and wear a lifejacket.

If people are headed for swimming activities in remote areas, which are less accessible by emergencies and Search and Rescue, “personal responsibility and self rescue needs to be top priority,” said Miller.

This week, July 19-25, is National Drowning Prevention Week (NDPW) in Canada, and the highest number of drownings usually occur around this time.

In the prior two weeks, there were four recorded drownings in B.C.

This week there were two deaths – a 32-year-old woman drowned at Matheson Lake in Metchosin, and a 23-year-old man drowned at Six Mile beach north of Nelson.

READ MORE: 32-year-old woman drowns at Matheson Lake in Metchosin

READ MORE: Body recovered after man drowns at Six Mile beach north of Nelson

Although drowning death numbers in B.C. have dropped in 2019 and 2020, Miller said the goal is to come down to zero. In 2018, there were 44 drownings in B.C.

READ MORE : 44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Based on Lifesaving Society’s statistics, swimming is the most common activity linked to drowning, followed by power boating.

In B.C., young adults between the age of 20-34 are at the highest risk of drowning, of which 80 per cent are males who are prone to overstep their limits and take risks for an adrenaline rush.

“Risk-taking contributes highly to drownings,” said Miller.

“When you get into trouble in water it’s very difficult to get out of it.”

Water

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vanderhoof sees a surge of scam callers

Residents have received multiple unknown phone calls from a person claiming to be a representative of the CRA or law enforcement, local mounties said.

Brucejack mine fatality identified

Patrick Critch was from Newfoundland

Pretivm Resources reports fatality at Brucejack mine

The isolated incident occurred last Friday, and the employee passed away on Sunday in hospital

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Smoke seen over northern B.C. from wildfires in the U.S. and Siberia

Smoke was seen over Vanderhoof, Fort St. James and Prince George on Friday, July 31.

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

Abbotsford mom worried about her two kids in Beirut following explosion

Shelley Beyak’s children were abducted by their dad in 2018

Young Canadians, hospitality workers bear the brunt of mental strain in 2020: report

A study by Morneau Shepell points to economic uncertainty in the pandemic as the cause for angst

Health Canada recalling more than 50 hand sanitizers in evolving list

Organization says to stop using products listed, and to consult a health-care professional

Most Read