The long-term trend towards fewer drownings in Canada continues. With 431 drownings and preventable waterrelated deaths, 2001 marked the fifth consecutive year that a record low was reached. During the past five years (1997â€œ2001), Canadian water-related deaths have decreased by 20% from the previous five years (1992â€œ1996). Taking population growth into account, the Canadian preventable water-related death rate also continues to decrease.
The long-term trend towards fewer drownings in Canada continues. With 431 drownings and preventable waterrelated deaths, 2001 marked the fifth consecutive year that a record low was reached. During the past five years (1997″2001), Canadian water-related deaths have decreased by 20% from the previous five years (1992″1996). Taking population growth into account, the Canadian preventable water-related death rate also continues to decrease.
Fewer drownings occurred among all age groups during the past five years (1997-2001) versus the previous five years, except for 50 to 64-year-olds, for whom there was virtually no change. The largest decreases by age group were among young children under five years of age and young men 25 to 34 years of age. By activity group, recreational powerboaters, sport fishermen and young children playing in and near water have seen the largest decreases in the number of drownings. These high-risk groups have been key targets of the Lifesaving Society’s Water Smart public education campaign.
However, despite the fact that drownings are down, there is still much work to do.
Highlights included in this reports:
- Who is drowning? Men make up 83% of Canadian drowning victims. This makes men almost 5 time more likely to drown than women.
- Where were they? Mostly on lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. There is a positive trend towards fewer backyard pool drownings.
- What were they doing? The majority of drowning occurred during recreational activities. More drowning happened while swimming, sport fishing and power boating than during any other recreational activities. There has been a 14% change increase in fatalities involving personal watercraft.
- Alcohol consumption, not wearing PFDs, unsupervised youngsters, rough and cold water and snowmobiling on ice after dark are identified as the main risk factors for drowning.
Unfortunately, drowning is still the third leading cause of unintentional death for Canadians under 60 years of age, surpassed only by motor vehicle collisions and poisoning. This makes drowning prevention a long-term commitment for the Lifesaving Society and its partners.
To further reduce drownings in Canada, the Lifesaving Society recommends that Canadians:
- Always wear lifejackets or PFDs when boating.
- Wear a flotation suit when snowmobiling or ice fishing.
- Always boat sober and ride sober. Do not drink and drive a boat or snowmobile.
- Get trained in boating safety, get carded. Get the Pleasure Craft Operator card.
- Always supervise young children closely in, on, or around water, and always swim with a buddy.
- Learn to swim and learn lifesaving skills.