Water Safety and Lifesaving Skills

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In a community with an abundance of natural waterways, water safety and life-saving skills are essential.

For this reason, it is vital that everyone in the South Cariboo has access to swimming lessons and life-saving training in a safe and supervised aquatic environment. This would ensure that our beautiful lakes and waterways are enjoyed safely.

Statistics related to drowning in B.C.

Information from the Lifesaving Society of B.C.:

  • 400 to 500 Canadians die every year in water-related incidents, most of them in unsupervised settings.
  • Aquatic fatalities are the second-leading cause of accidental death in Canada for people under the age of 55, and most of these deaths are preventable.
  • In 2015, there were 79 water-related fatalities in B.C., with a death rate of 1.7 per 100,000.
    • Of the water-related fatalities in B.C., 28% were age 20-34, 25% were age 50-64 and 18% were age 65+.
    • Of those who drowned, 78% were male and 22% were female. These drownings occurred most frequently in lakes (37%) and rivers (28%).
    • Water-related fatalities occur most often with swimming (21%), power boating (17%), non-powered boating (13%), diving/ jumping (7%) and scuba diving/ snorkeling (5%).
    • Of the swimming fatalities, 30% of the drownings occurred due to weak swimming skills or being a non- swimmer.
  • In Canada, drowning is the No. 1 cause of unintentional deaths among children 1–4 years of age, and the No. 2 cause of preventable death for children under 10 years of age.
  • Less than 1% of water-related fatalities in B.C. in 2015 occurred in a lifeguard supervised setting; many drownings occurred in backyard pools or unsupervised beaches.

Children with Special Needs

As discussed in a previous post, children with special needs are at increased risk of death by drowning. Guan and Li (2017) reported that drowning accounts for 46% of all injury deaths among children with autism, and, children with autism are 160 times as likely to die from drowning as the general pediatric population. Children with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability tend to wander from their safe environment towards bodies of water, seeking relief from the serenity of water when they experience heightened anxiety. With the drowning statistics, Guan and Li recommend that swimming is an imperative survival skill for children with autism; aquatic training should be introduced as soon as a child is diagnosed, and swimming skills should be taught before any behavioral, speech, or occupational therapy.

An aquatic facility in the South Cariboo would be able to offer:

  • Water safety skills.
    • HCMA Architecture + Design (HCMA) (2017) state that learning how not to drown is one of the most basic of human needs and public services, especially for communities close to natural waterways. Water safety skills include survival flotation, energy conservation, and safety behavior.
  • Life-saving skills and water rescue leadership training, which would also provide leadership and employment opportunities for younger members of our community (Bronze programs, Lifesaving Leadership courses).
  • Basic and advanced skill training in swimming, diving, kayaking, and other water sports.

LifeSaving Society – B.C. and Yukon Branch. (2018). Water incident statistics. Retrieved from http://www.lifesaving.bc.ca/water-incident-statistics. Watersmart tips: http://www.lifesaving.bc.ca/watersmart-tips. Drowning statistics: http://www.lifesaving. bc.ca/drowning-stats.

Guan, J., and Li, G. (2017). Characteristics of unintentional drowning deaths in children with autism spectrum disorder. Injury Epidemiology. 4:32

HCMA Architecture and Design (2017). Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre feasibility study summary report. Sept 7, 2017. Retrived from https://www.victoria.ca/ assets/Departments/Parks~Rec~Culture/Recreation/Documents/CPFC%20Feasibility%20Study %202016-2017.pdf.