For National Drowning Prevention Week, the Hastings & Prince Edward Counties Health Unit along with Preventable and Parachute, asked swimmers to have a word with themselves before getting in the water. Towels emblazoned with the message “Before you think only other swimmers drown, have a word with yourself” were laid on various beaches in Ontario, BC and Alberta as a reminder that we are all at risk of drowning.

Approximately 500 Canadians drown each year. Alcohol use, not wearing lifejackets or PFDs while boating and lack of child supervision are major risk factors. “For many people, summer includes activities such as swimming and boating but not everyone is aware of how to stay safe around water,” says Cindy Kirkpatrick, public health nurse with the Hastings & Prince Edward Counties Health Unit.

Data indicates that drowning is the second leading cause of injury death for children. “Children under five are at special risk for drowning as they are attracted to water but can’t understand the risks,” said Parachute’s Vice President Pamela Fuselli. “Older children may overestimate their skills in the water, respond to a dare or underestimate the strength of a current. Even good swimmers can get into trouble. Active supervision of young children near water, four-sided pool fencing, the use of lifejackets, adult training in first aid and CPR and swimming lessons for kids are all valuable steps to prevent drowning.”

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