Lifesaving Society warns that the next 4 weeks is when the greatest number of drownings occur

National Drowning Prevention Week, July 19–27, 2014

FREDERICTON, July 18, 2014 /CNW/ - At the mid-summer mark, the Lifesaving Society reports that five people have drowned in New Brunswick this year and cautions everyone to focus on water safety during this peak drowning season. To date, 2014 drownings include two who were boating, two who were near or on water and fell in, and one case where the cause is unknown.

This means these drowning victims did not even intend to be in the water.

The Society encourages people of all ages to be prepared for an unexpected entry into the water by wearing a lifejacket when boating and learning how to swim.

"It was a slow start to summer this year with much colder water. Unexpectedly falling into the water is completely different than diving in or choosing to enter the water," says Barbara Byers, Public Education Director with the Lifesaving Society. "You need to be prepared. The shock of falling into water when the water is cold can cause people to gasp and inhale water and, unless they are strong swimmers and able to survive that experience, drowning can occur very quickly."

The Society recommends that all passengers in a boat wear a lifejacket and that all Canadians be able to achieve at least the Swim to Survive standard to ensure they can survive an unexpected fall into deep water.

Who is at risk?
So far this year, 80% of victims were men. Neither of the two victims who drowned while boating was wearing a lifejacket.

Highlights from the Lifesaving Society's 2014 Maritimes Drowning Report reflecting data from the Provincial Chief Coroner's and Medical Examiner's offices with a focus on data from 2002 to 2011:

  • The New Brunswick drowning rate decreased by 11% – the same decline in the combined average drowning rate in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and PEI for 2007-2011 compared to the previous 5 year period.
  • By age, the highest drowning rates in the Maritimes are found among young adults 25-29 years of age. It is concerning that drowning rate for this age group at 3.8 per 100,000 population is 2.5 times greater than the national average.
  • At 90%, the proportion of male drownings in the Maritimes is higher than the national average of 80%.
  • The number of water-related fatalities begins to increase April through June (30%) and peak in July through September (44%).

Keeping Children Safe
Children under the age of 5 are also a high priority for the Lifesaving Society. Drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death for children under 10 years, and children under five are particularly at risk.

Most people believe that they will be able to recognize a drowning child because they will cry for help or splash and wave their arms. In fact, a child in distress is more likely to slip quietly under the water, unable to call or reach out for help. Drowning can happen quickly and quietly and go unnoticed even when people are nearby.

During National Drowning Prevention Week from July 19–27, the Lifesaving Society has these important water safety messages:

Parents – If you're not within arms' reach, you've gone too far.
Put lifejackets on toddlers and never leave children alone near water. Keep them in sight and within arms' reach. It only takes a second for the unthinkable to happen. While you turn your back to reach for a snack out of your cooler, your child could be gone forever.

A responsible guardian needs to assume responsibility for continuous and vigilant supervision.

Everyone – get the training
Everyone should learn to swim and take a lifesaving course such as the Lifesaving Society Bronze Medallion.

Choose it. Use it.
Ensure that lifejackets fit properly and are in good working condition. All buckles and zippers should be functioning and intact. Everyone should wear lifejackets while boating and non-swimmers should wear a lifejacket anytime they are in or near the water.

Boomers – recognize your limits
Be realistic about your physical limitations as you age. Know your heart health through regular check-ups and don't "push the envelope" any more on, in or near the water, than you would at home. Take care getting in and out of bathtubs. Install grab-bars designed for weight-bearing to aid entry, exit and movement in your bathtub. Have someone close enough to hear you and respond, should you have a problem.

Learn how to Swim to Survive
All Canadians should be able to achieve at least the Swim to Survive standard which defines the minimum skills required to survive an unexpected fall into deep water: ROLL into deep water – TREAD water for 60 seconds – SWIM 50 metres.

About the Lifesaving Society
The Lifesaving Society is a full-service provider of programs, products and services designed to prevent drowning. We save lives and prevent water-related injury through our training programs, Water Smart® public education, drowning prevention research, aquatic safety management and lifesaving sport. Each year, over 1,000,000 Canadians participate in the Society's swimming, lifesaving, lifeguard and leadership programs. For more information, visit www.lifesavingnb.ca.

About Swim to Survive
The Lifesaving Society's Swim to Survive program trains children in three basic skills: ROLL into deep water; TREAD water for one minute; and SWIM 50 m (statistics show that most people who drown are less than 15 m from shore or safety). It is not meant as a replacement for standard swimming lessons; however the program is an important first step to being safe around water and could make the difference between life and death when immersion is sudden.

About the 2014 Maritimes Drowning Report
The Lifesaving Society's 2014 Maritimes Drowning Report (available at www.lifesavingnb.ca) analyzes data extracted from the Office of the Chief Coroner of New Brunswick, the Chief Coroner of Prince Edward Island and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Nova Scotia – up to 2011 – the most recent year from which compete information is available. The report includes only preventable (unintentional) deaths – not deaths due to natural causes, suicide or homicide.

The Maritimes Drowning Report also presents preliminary interim data for 2012 and 2013 derived from media releases, media clippings, news reports and internet searches.

SOURCE Lifesaving Society

For further information: To schedule an interview or for more information, please contact: Barbara Byers: barbarab@lifeguarding.com, Lifesaving Society: 416-490-8844 (bus.), ext. 259 or 416-727-5636 (cell)