Did you know that adults make up the biggest group of drowning
victims in Canada? Young men are at especially risk because of
alcohol consumption during boating, failure to wear PFDs, or going
out alone or in poor conditions. Even adults need to follow basic
best practices to stay safe.
Drowning Prevention Tips
Swim with a buddy - don't swim alone.
Over one third of victims were swimming alone when they
Don't drink and drive your boat - you could lose your
Half of fatal incidents for men 20-34 involve alcoholic beverage
consumption. You would never drink and drive your car, so don't
drink and boat. In Ontario, if you are convicted of driving a boat
while under the influence, you will lose your license to operate
your boat and your car.
Wear a lifejacket when boating, fishing or
canoeing/kayaking. It buys you time.
Most drowning victims never intend to get in the water. Just
having a lifejacket in the boat doesn't help - trying to put a
lifejacket on just before you capsize is like trying to buckle your
seatbelt just before a car crash.
Canadian waters are cold most of the time. Heavy gasping,
uncontrollable hyperventilation and cold shock can occur in just
the first minute of entering cold water. If the cold shock doesn't
kill you, time will.
Check the condition of your boat, the weather and the
water conditions before heading out.
Make sure your boat is ready for a trip. Coast Guard reports
most calls for help are predictable and preventable non-distress
calls; boats broken down, run aground or out of gas. For longer
trips, file a float plan to help Search and Rescue find
you in the event of a real emergency.
Don't go out in stormy, rough weather, in the dark, or when
there's a thunderstorm approaching.
Check the ice before you go on it.
Clear, hard, new ice is the only kind of ice recommended for
travel. Avoid slushy ice, ice on moving water (rivers, currents),
or ice that has thawed and refrozen. Keep away from unfamiliar
paths, unknown ice and avoid travelling on ice at night. Remember,
ice quality and thickness varies across a body of water and both
can change very quickly.
Wear a thermal protection buoyant suit to increase your chance
of survival if you go through.
Dog walkers need to be careful. Year after year, owners drown
trying to rescue their dogs.
Learn to Swim
Basic swimming ability is a fundamental requirement in any
meaningful attempt to eliminate drowning in Canada. The Lifesaving
Society offers training programs from learn-to-swim through advanced lifesaving, lifeguarding and leadership.
Our Swim for
Life program stresses lots of in-water practice to develop
solid swimming strokes and skills. We incorporate valuable Water
Smart® education that will last a lifetime.
Survive is a Lifesaving Society survival training program. Swim
to Survive is not a subsititute for swimming lessons; instead, it defines the
minimum skills needed to survive an unexpected fall into deep
water. People of all ages should be able to perform the Society's
Swim to Survive standard.