The Lifesaving Society is kicking off Drowning Prevention Week with tips to have a great summer.
"It's our annual event to raise awareness of the problem of drowning and ways people can go about being what we call water smart, and thinking about preventing drownings and water-related injuries throughout the year," says Dr. Christopher Love, the Water Smart and Safety Management Coordinator of the Lifesaving Society Manitoba.
Every year in Canada roughly 450 people die due to drowning.
"On Sunday we were at The Forks," says Love. "We gathered at the Winnipeg sign with interested individuals to show their support for drowning prevention. Specifically for the need to learn to swim."
The life skill of swimming can be learned at any age as it is one of the biggest ways people can help prevent drownings.
"Learning to swim is really important and one of the base steps in order to prevent drownings. It's a life-saving skill and it's also great physical fitness, it's good for family bonding, and people's mental health. Especially coming off the last two years, the pandemic and restrictions. Why should you learn to swim? It can save your life, someone else's life, and do all of these other great things as well."
The Lifesaving Society Manitoba wants to stress a few key messages. The first is learning to swim. The second is to not go out swimming by oneself.
"Make sure you're always swimming with a friend or as we like to say, swim with a buddy. That extends to any other water activities. You should never be alone in, on, or around water because if you've got someone with you, if you get into trouble, they can help and vice versa."
Love says parents should be engaged in active adult supervision and children six years or younger should always be within arms reach.
"Make sure you're wearing life jackets or personal floatation devices (PFDs) at appropriate times. You're going out in a boat, you should always be wearing one. Boogy boarding, standup paddle boarding, if it's rougher weather or you have smaller children and you're concerned with their ability to swim, the life jacket adds a layer of protection and security."
Love says the more levels of safety people can utilize when around water, the better. The Manitoba Government along with Cabela's recently partnered together to offer free life jacket use at certain beaches across Manitoba.
"It's only a kiddie pool you can't drown. Well, basically all you need in order to drown is for your mouth and nose to be covered in liquid. We've had adults drown in puddles on the street, children drown in kiddie pools, draining bathtubs, pails, and retention ponds. Basically, it's a form of suffocation."
Another myth is one many people believe when it comes to eating and swimming.
"Another wives tale is that if you go swimming within an hour of eating a meal you'll get a cramp and sink. That's not how your body works. Certainly, you can get cramps but you can get cramps anytime you overexert yourself. Are you going to sink? No."
World Drowning Prevention Day
July 25, 2022, will be the second annual World Drowning Prevention Day.
"The World Health Organization (WHO) has been doing work in the field of drowning prevention for the last five years, working with national organizations like ours," says Love. "We know that annually there are over 230,000 fatalities due to drowning, in the world. The vast majority of those are in low and middle-income countries."
This day follows right after National Drowning Prevention Week which runs July 17-23.
"We hope to keep the momentum going. The theme this year is 'do one thing.' If you keep doing that, it's going to go a long way to help reduce the toll we see to injuries and deaths we see from drownings around the globe."