The drowning death rate climbs as children enter their teenage
years and begin to "push the envelope" with riskier behaviour.
Most teenage drownings happen at lakes and rivers, less so at
the home pool. Half of fatal incidents occur while swimming, but
other aquatic activities enter the mix as well, including
powerboating, diving and jumping into water, and partying near or
on the water.
Diving into shallow water is a particularly high risk activity,
whose impact is only partially reflected in the drowning
statistics. Many other victims suffer a broken neck or catastrophic
spinal cord injury and, while they survive the incident, are
paralyzed for life.
Approximately one third of 15 to 19-year-old victims were alone
when they drowned - either alone or with other minors. And one in
five were non-swimmers or weak swimmers. Although still underage,
alcohol and drugs play a significant role (33%) in elevating risk
for 15 to 19-year-old victims.
Drowning prevention tips
Learn to swim.
In Canada, knowing how to swim is a life skill. In families new
to Canada, older children may not have learned to swim in their
younger years. Teens, like younger children, need to at least be
able to stay afloat.
In its Swim to Survive® Standard, the Lifesaving Society defines
the minimum standard of swimming skill: roll into deep water, tread
water for one minute, swim 50 metres. These are the essential
minimum skills required to survive an unexpected fall into deep
Swim to Survive is only a first step to being safe around water.
The Lifesaving Society's Swim and Lifesaving programs
offer a wide range of aquatic training well beyond Swim to
Get the training.
If you have a pool, cottage or camp, ensure that family members
learn lifesaving skills. Teens should enroll in lifesaving and
lifeguarding courses such as the Bronze Medallion and National Lifeguard to obtain
the skills for a lifetime of fun in the water and as preparation
for a vocation as a lifeguard or swim instructor.
Protect your neck.
Spinal injuries are catastrophic, often rendering a teen
paralyzed for life. Reduce the risk by entering unknown water feet
first; by not diving in shallow lakes or pools; and by refraining
from horseplay in a pool or waterfront area.
Wear your lifejacket: it won't work if you don't wear
Most drowning victims never intend to get in the water. Trying
to put a lifejacket on just before you capsize is like trying to
buckle a seat belt just before you have a car crash.
Always swim with a buddy.
Most drowning victims can swim. But just because you're a good
swimmer, doesn't mean you'll be able to take care of yourself if
you get into trouble. Learn lifesaving skills so you can save
yourself and help to save your buddy.
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.