Thursday, August 23, 2012

Water Safety

(DUFFERIN COUNTY, ON) – Despite the shorter days and cooler nights that are encroaching on what is left of summer, the Dufferin Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) believe this year’s swimming and boating season is still far from over.

That being said, the OPP wants to remind the public of the very real dangers associated with water based recreation, and to encourage people to take personal responsibility for ensuring water safety for themselves and their children. Tragedies do happen, and it could happen to you.

Although there is no one single cause that leads to drownings, there are common contributors. Basic safety practices such as learning to swim at an early age; wearing a lifejacket or a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) while on a vessel or in water; adult supervision of children while swimming; and not drinking and boating can make the difference between surviving, or not.

Between January 1, 2012 and July 22, 2012, 9 people had been killed in marine vessel incidents in OPP-patrolled waters, compared to 13 people over the same time period last year. Out of those 9 people who died this year in OPP-investigated marine vessel incidents 5 were not wearing a PFD. Five of those deaths were also alcohol-related. All 9 of those drowning victims believed that it wouldn’t happen to them.

In 2011, on those waterways policed by the OPP, 82 per cent of the deaths were recreational boaters who were not wearing a lifejacket or PFD. Many boaters who drown believe they are good swimmers so they think having a PFD on board, and within easy reach, is good enough.

Most marine drownings happen unexpectedly when small boats capsize or someone falls overboard. The PFD left behind is not much use, especially in cold water.

Listed below are some interesting findings extracted from the June 23, 2011 Coroner’s Report - Drowning Review: A Review of All Accidental Drowning Deaths in Ontario from May 1st to September 30th 2010.

  • The total number of drowning deaths in 2010 in Ontario was similar to previous years. 
  • Drowning is largely a male-related phenomenon. Seventy-six of 89 (85%) deaths were deaths of males. 
  • There was a 260 per cent increase in drowning deaths in children less than five years of age. Thirteen of the 89 (15%) deaths in the review were in children less than five years of age. 
  • Those aged 20-64 accounted for 50 of 89 (56%) of the deaths. 
  • Ninety-six percent or 22 of 23 of those operating power boats and unpowered boats that drowned were not wearing life jackets or personal flotation devices. 
  • Drowning occurs largely in:
    Those owning or utilizing private pools 19 of 89 (21%);
    And those using lakes/ponds 51 of 89 (57%) for their aquatic setting. 
In conclusion the Dufferin OPP would like to encourage people to learn to swim, to wear a PFD, to closely supervise young children, and to boat sober.