Recent drownings prompt warnings about water safety
Published Monday, July 19, 2010 4:40PM EDT
Tethered OPP police divers search below the waters of the Otonabee River in Peterborough on Thursday, July 5, 2010 for a young boy who had gone missing while swimming.
The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario is urging parents to remember that drowning is preventable, even though there's been an increase in the number of water-related deaths this summer.
"Most children who drown in pools actually aren't in the pool intentionally. They aren't there swimming, they're just playing around the pool and they trip and they fall in," said emergency room physician Dr. Stephen Noseworthy.
Forty-three people have drowned in Ontario since May 1, according to the Lifesaving Society, a charitable organization working to prevent drowning and water-related injury in Canada. Last year, there were 39 drownings in the same period of time.
The society's public education director says the spike in drownings is likely linked to more people choosing to beat the heat by cooling off in the water.
"I can't think of any other reason, I just can't," said Barbara Byers.
In Quebec, there were 16 more drownings between Jan. 1 and July 19 compared to last year. Byers said many of those include ice-related incidents involving snowmobiles and other winter sports.
Most drownings occur in lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and waterfalls, according to 2006 statistics compiled from coroners' offices across the country.
The majority of drowning victims tend to be men over the age of 18. However, drowning remains the second leading cause of preventable death for children under 10 years old.
Keep close eye on kids
Noseworthy says the best way to prevent drownings among children is to keep a close eye on them at all times.
"You should always, always keep close eye on your kids, even in free water where they may be swimming with lifeguards present, always be within arms reach of your children. And if your children aren't strong swimmers, you should really have them wear lifejackets," Noseworthy told CTV Ottawa.
He says every swimming pool should have a fence enclosing the entire pool, as well as a self-latching and self-closing gate.
Although there are swimming pool alarms that parents can purchase, Noseworthy said a watchful parent remains the best safeguard.
"Pool alarms may be of some help, but they're really not going to be efficient if a parent is in the house at the time or is distracted by talking to someone else. They really need to be keeping a close eye on their children at all times."
With files from The Canadian Press