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

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

Penticton mayor John Vassilaki responded to BC Housing minster David Eby’s remarks that the city has put themselves at risk of creating a tent city Wednesday, March 3, 2020. (Western News file photo)
Penticton mayor calls out BC Housing minister for ‘irresponsible fear-mongering’

Council recently rejected BC Housing’s request to keep a winter shelter open longer than first planned

After 20 years in the community, Pathways Addiction Recovery Centre has had its funding cut by Interior Health, who says they are bringing addictions services in-house now. (Facebook)
Community outraged at Interior Health’s decision to cut funding to Penticton addiction services centre

People question why Pathways addiction services would be cut during an overdose epidemic

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

Penticton bylaw services department. (Submitted file photo)
Penticton Mayor tries again for more bylaw officers

Mayor John Vassilaki wants to see bylaw offer seven day a week services with extended hours

The City Park dock in Kelowna was underwater due to rising Okanagan Lake flooding in 2017. (OBWB photo)
Okanagan facing extreme flooding risk

Water board calls for updated Okanagan Lake level management

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

The restart of the program means seniors can receive affordable meals delivered five days a week Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post.
Princeton Meals on Wheels one year trial will cost $92k

Program restarts, and volunteer drivers are needed

Beginning late Tuesday, anti-pipeline protesters blocked the intersection of Hastings Street and Clark Drive in Vancouver. (Instagram/Braidedwarriors)
Demonstrators block key access to Vancouver port over jail for pipeline protester

They group is protesting a 90-day jail sentence handed to a fellow anti-pipeline protester

Two Vancouver police officers were struck by a car when the driver learned he was being arrested for allegedly using a fraudulent credit card to pay for food. (Vancouver Police Department)
Driver being arrested for alleged food order fraud rams Vancouver police with car

Two officers are in stable condition, suffering soft tissue injuries following the incident

Most Read