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

Sternwheelers once plied Okanagan Lake

Vessels once transported passengers and goods along the Okanagan Valley

Fires ignite on Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie; Kamloops Fire Centre blazes holding

Crews working throughout region over holiday weekend to contain wildfires

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Fourteen blazes sparked in Kamloops Fire Centre

Lightning the suspected cause of all fires but one; cause of Solco Creek blaze remains unknown

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Alberta man presumed to have drowned after cliff jumping in West Kelowna

Emergency responders began rescue efforts at around 2:40 p.m. on Aug. 1.

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Reported Big White wildfire dubbed ‘smoke chase’

Crews responded to the area but could not locate a fire

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

Wildfire in West Kelowna’s Rose Valley grows to 3 hectares

The fire was first reported at around 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 2.

Most Read