July 07, 2013 - 9:19 AM
It’s been a deadly week in the waters of B.C. and the province’s Coroners Service has issued a warning.
The people who are intimately familiar with the tragedy surrounding drowning deaths are warning people, especially tourists, to take extra care when they are enjoying the lakes, rivers, pools and the ocean.
In the past week, four people have drowned in our province. The four deaths happened in different parts of B.C. and involved four sets of entirely different circumstances.
A 3-year-old child drowned in a backyard swimming pool, a tennager slipped and fell while playing at the top of waterfall, a middle aged man tubing on a fast running river drowned, and the tourist who drowned in Wood Lake while trying to save his chidren.
“The variety of cases shows the many dangers that water can hold and thus the need for extra vigilance whether swimming, boating or even just walking along the edge of a body of water,” said Barbara McLintock with the B.C. Coroners Service.
McLintock said a review of drowning deaths over the past five years shows that many victims are
unfamiliar with the waters involved, so they don't see the risk or underestimate the risk. There are unexpected currents, steep and sudden drop offs or unsually high water levels because of heavy rain or late spring runoff.
As well, alcohol and activities in or on the water don’t mix. It’s just as dangerous as drinking and driving.
A review of drowning deaths in B.C. by the Coroners Service found 40% of the victims were drunk or on drugs.
Water safety tips from the B.C. Coroners Service:
* Always wear a properly fitting Personal Floatation Device (PFD) when engaged in boating or tubing activities. If you are suddenly thrown into cold and/or rough water, it may often be impossible to find a PFD and put it on, even if you had one
in the boat with you. Children, non-swimmers and weak swimmers should also wear a PFD when wading or playing in the water at a river or lakeside.
* Be aware of the area where you are planning your activities. Check the weather forecast before heading out, and also do a visual inspection of the area. Do not head blindly down a river or stream without being aware of the water conditions
* If you are hosting visitors from another province or country, ensure that they are informed about the conditions that prevail in the lake or river you are visiting. Warn them about steep drop-offs, rapids and any other hazards.
* Alcohol and water-related activities do not mix, any more than alcohol and driving do. Alcohol impairs your co-ordination and judgment, and this
substantially adds to the risk inherent in swimming or boating.
* Always supervise children anywhere near water. Pre-school aged children can drown in only a few centimetres of water, and the drowning is often silent. Proper supervision for children of this age involves always having them within arms-length of a responsible adult.
* Never dive into unknown waters. Unexpectedly shallow water or hidden obstacles underwater can easily prove fatal.
For further information about water safety tips, check out the Canadian Red Cross and the Lifesaving Society’s websites.
The beach and dock at the Kokanee Beach Resort on Wood Lake in the Okanagan where a father drowned trying to rescue his children.
(JULIE WHITTET /InfoTel Multimedia)
Always wear a properly fitting Personal Floatation Device (PFD) when engaged in boating, kayaking or tubing activities.
(SHANNON QUESNEL /InfoTel Multimedia)
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013