June 7th to the 14th 2014 marks water safety week here in Canada. Every year, the Canadian Red Cross works to raise awareness about water safety in order to prevent drowning incidents.

Did you know that, on average, over 400 Canadians drown each and every year? And that most of these drownings were preventable?

Children from one to four years of age are most at risk of accidental drowning. They can drown in just centimetres of water, often in a bathtub or backyard pool. The Lifesaving Society offers water safety tips for parents of children under 5 years of age here.

Men aged 15 to 44 are also in the highest risk group for drowning. Many incidents involve risk-taking, alcohol and not wearing a lifejacket when boating.

There are key elements of water safety that, when followed, can help save a life. Here are a few of the recommendations from the Red Cross Society.

Learn to Swim

Becoming a strong swimmer is an important step to preventing drowning incidents. Sign up your child in swimming lessons, and take classes yourself if you are not able to swim. When looking at possible courses, look for a program that teaches both swimming skills and water safety. The Canadian Red Cross programs teach both important skills, and offer classes from 4 month of age through to adults.  This is the program that we teach at Emily’s Swim School.

Take Safety Precautions

Make sure your backyard pool is properly fenced off and can’t be accessed by unsupervised children. Have safety equipment on hand, such as lifejackets, a reaching pole and hook, a lifesaving ring, a first aid kit and a cellphone. For a complete checklist, see the Lifesaving Society’s Backyard Swimming Pool Safety Inspection Checklist.

Prepare for Emergencies

Learning first aid and CPR skills can save a life. Consider getting training and certification through a group such as St. John Ambulance, who offers courses throughout Ontario and Canada. Also know when to call your local emergency number or 9-1-1 for help.

Supervise Children When Near Water

Proper active supervision by an adult is the best way to keep children safe near and in the water. Even if your child can swim, he or she must be watched when at the beach, in the pool, at the water park and in the bathtub.

Many drowning incidents happened when children accidentally went into the water. If playing near the water, children must still be constantly supervised. Wearing a lifejacket is also recommended for non-swimmers.

 

As the majority of drowning incidents in Canada occur in just three months – June, July and August – it’s important to promote water safety right now. Thanks to Water Safety Week, more adults and children will learn how to have fun while staying safe near the water.

For more information, please see the Canadian Red Cross brochure Health and Safety Tips –  Summer Water Safety.