Boomer Canadians older but perhaps not any wiser about water safety

    Is Baby Boomer infallible attitude a factor in increased water related

    TORONTO, June 24 /CNW/ - The very moms and dads who harped on their kids
to be careful around water over the last few decades may not be listening to
their own advice. As the Canada Day long weekend - one of the biggest "water
weekends" of the summer approaches, the Lifesaving Society reports that
Canadian Boomers may be getting older, but not necessarily wiser when it comes
to water safety.
    According to the 2008 Ontario Drowning Report issued by the Lifesaving
Society today, the number of water-related deaths among older adults has
increased and now sits at an average of 50 deaths per year.
    "Seniors (65 years and older) now have the highest drowning death rate of
all age groups," said Barbara Byers, public education director for the
Lifesaving Society. "This is troubling because drownings across all other age
groups have been cut in half since we launched our Water Smart campaign in
1987. Baby Boomers may be reticent to admit their vulnerabilities in or around
water, putting them in danger as they continue to partake in high-risk aquatic
behaviours adopted from their youth, despite reduced physical capabilities."
    The potential for increased drownings among older adults and seniors will
grow as more Baby Boomers move into their senior years and still engage in the
high-risk behaviour of their youth. Factors such as reduced physical
capabilities, certain medical conditions and medication intake may affect
physical and mental capacity - making the water a higher-risk place for them
to be.
    Seniors 65 and older accounted for half of all bathtub deaths; one
quarter of all backyard pool deaths and half of all hot tub deaths during
    In terms of risk factors, major contributors to drowning for Baby Boomers
continue to be:

    -   Not wearing a lifejacket (94 per cent)
    -   Being alone (64 per cent)
    -   Heart disease and attacks (28 per cent)
    -   Being out in cold water situations (26 per cent) and/or after dark
        (21 per cent)

    "We are pleased that water-related deaths have decreased across all other
age groups with the most dramatic shift among the historically highest risk
age group - men aged 18 to 34 years of age," commented Byers. "In addition,
the drowning death rate of children under 5 years has also fallen dramatically
and is now in line with the drowning death rate for all ages combined."
    There were 132 drowning deaths in Ontario in 2004, the most recent year
for which complete data is available. This is four more than the lowest death
total recorded in 2003.
    Across Canada, the number of drowning deaths reached an all-time low in
2004 with 410 water-related fatalities - down nine per cent from 2003 and down
12 per cent from the previous five-year average. Canadian water-related deaths
decreased by 22 per cent versus the previous five years, and were down even
more sharply (31 per cent) from 10 years ago.
    As with most age groups, the vast majority of drowning victims continue
to be men (80 per cent), with drownings typically occurring during warm summer
months (May - August) with the peak in July and August. More than half of
fatal incidents occur on the weekend and almost half occur in the evening or
at night, despite most participation in aquatic activities taking place during
the day.

    About the 2008 Drowning Report

    The 2008 Edition of The Drowning Report is a profile of drowning and
water-related injuries in Ontario. The Lifesaving Society has been researching
and reporting on drowning and preventable water-related deaths in Ontario
since 1989, and since 1990, for each province and nationally. New data is
analyzed in the current edition for 2002, 2003 and 2004 in addition to prior
years' data. The Drowning Report provides a comprehensive fact base on the
drowning problem to guide the Society in developing drowning prevention

    About The Lifesaving Society

    The Lifesaving Society, Canada's lifeguarding experts, is a charitable
organization working to prevent drowning and water-related injury through its
training programs, Water Smart(R) public education and safety management
services. Each year in Canada, more than half a million people participate in
the Society's swim, lifesaving, lifeguarding and leadership courses. This
year, the Lifesaving Society celebrates 100 years of saving lives and drowning
prevention in Canada. For more information, please visit

For further information:

For further information: to view the full report or to book an interview
with Barbara Byers, please contact: Jennifer Meneses, PraxisPR, (905) 949-8255
ext.221, (416) 898-5809 (cell),; Michele Enhaynes,
PraxisPR, (905) 949-8255 ext. 229,; Barbara Byers, The
Lifesaving Society, (416) 490-8844, (416) 727-5636 (cell),

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