Latest Available Drowning Data Unveiled

    Lifesaving Society Calls For Canadians to be Extra Careful
    Around Water This Long Weekend

    TORONTO, Aug. 2 /CNW/ - With the approach of a long weekend when water
tragedies are typically high, the Lifesaving Society is releasing the latest
available (2004) drowning data and calling for Canadians to be extra careful
around water this weekend. According to the Water Incident Research Alliance
(WIRA), during the 2006 August long weekend, eight drownings and one serious
injury occurred in Ontario.
    According to the Lifesaving Society's Drowning Overview - Ontario 2004,
based on data received from the coroner's offices, drowning deaths are
decreasing nationally and reached an all-time low of 410 deaths in 2004.
    "It's good news that drownings are decreasing nationally, but it is of
concern that water-related deaths increased in Ontario," says Barbara Byers,
Public Education Director for the Lifesaving Society, Canada's lifeguarding
experts. "We need to continue to promote safe behaviour around water and
provide swim survival skills to prevent these tragedies from occurring. It's
particularly important to remind people to be extra careful over long
weekends, when water-related deaths tend to spike."
    Ontario drowning deaths edged up slightly in 2004 to 132, up by three per
cent from the previous year's all time low of 128 deaths. The increase in
deaths was especially high among men aged 25 - 64. In 2004, 82 deaths occurred
across this age span versus 59 deaths the previous year. Key risk factors
contributing to the 2004 water-related deaths in Ontario include the
consumption of alcohol before and during boating and the absence of wearing a
lifejacket. In fact, 94 per cent of boating victims were not wearing a
    "Ironically the same people who would never drink and drive their car
will often drink and boat," says Byers. "We want to change the perception that
it is okay to drink and boat in an attempt to save lives."
    A 2006 amendment to the Highway Traffic Act means that individuals
convicted of impaired boating can lose their driver's license. Penalties that
previously applied only to individuals convicted of impaired driving of an
automobile can also apply to impaired boaters operating a powered vessel.

          Statistics at a Glance -Drowning Overview - Ontario 2004:

    -   410 water-related fatalities nationally in 2004, a decrease of nine
        per cent from 2003 and 12 per cent from the previous five-year
        average of 466
    -   132 preventable water-related deaths in Ontario in 2004, up three per
        cent from 128 deaths in 2003
    -   Increase in Ontario drownings versus previous year include:
           -   42 boating deaths in 2004 versus 32 in 2003
           -   48 non-aquatic deaths where victim did not intend to be in the
               water versus 41 in 2003
           -   23 powerboating deaths versus 13 the year prior
           -   More water-related deaths occurred on rivers/streams and fewer
               deaths in backyard pools
    -   82 male deaths aged 25 - 64, an increase from 59 deaths the year
           -   Six water-related deaths among victims aged 18 - 24 versus 13
               in 2003
           -   42 water-related deaths involving alcoholic beverage
               consumption up from 38 deaths in 2003 and 40 deaths in 2002
           -   27 water-related victims were not wearing lifejackets in 2004
               up from 20 in 2003 (data based on those for whom lifejacket
               information was available)
    -   Four deaths in children under five years of age in 2004 and 2003
        versus an average of nine per year in the previous five years (1998 -

    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, the Society certifies more than 500,000 people
in its swim, lifesaving, lifeguarding and leadership courses. For more
information, please visit

For further information:

For further information: on the research or to book an interview with
Barbara Byers to discuss the findings or water-safety, please contact:
Jennifer Meneses, PraxisPR, (905) 949-8255 ext.221, (416) 898-5809 (cell),; Barbara Byers, The Lifesaving Society, (416) 490-8844,
(416) 727-5636 (cell),

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