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

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

OUR VIEW: Election could well backfire on Horgan

Are voters angry enough to cast NDP out, after sending us to the polls in the middle of a pandemic?

Downtown Maple Ridge BIA helping to stock the shelves for the food bank

Participating businesses will have donation boxes available for the month of October

City of Maple Ridge continues the hunt for new industrial land

Since 2014, 203 acres of industrial land has been designated for future employment needs

Fraser health sends letter warning of possible COVID exposure at Maple Ridge school

Parents of students at Yennadon Elementary were told an individual at the school has contacted virus

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

VIDEO: COVID won’t dampen Lower Mainland woman’s Halloween spirit

Langley’s Tanya Reid posted video offering suggestions of how trick-or-treating might look for her

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Father hopes journey to aviation-safety program inspires hope

Former South Surrey resident Greg Sewell hasn’t given up on quest to mandate older-plane retrofits

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Most Read